Skip to main content

Full text of "Cardinal Wolsey"

See other formats

CM*** ;02'' :'; -; '<* so * 

,, , , V ..' . KHROWBR-rX <*' *** 

: C4RSt<iriH8WUTi tif,nIW0IB 

..; ! :,,;: : ., . tiBHAWX 

Ctoelbt toiglfeffl 





,. .-<,,_ 

,. i 


BISHOP OF LONDON*' "_";,' ' ' ,*',,__ 



Afrl 1888 

1888, 1891 '895, xBy8 190;*,, 1904, 1906 (///), 




THE STATE OF EUKOPE, 1494-1512 i 


THE FEENCH ALLIANCE, 1512-1515 18 

THE UNIVEBSAL PEACE, 1515-1518 35 


THE FIELD OF THE CLOTH OF GOLD, 1518-1520 ... 51 


THE CONFEBENCE OF CALAIS, 1520-1521 .... 66 


TBOB IM^IBEIAL ALLIANCE, 1521-1523 . . . . . 84 



RENEWAL OF PEACE, 1523-1527 ...... 101 



THE KING'S DIVOEOE, 1527-1529 . . . . * 150 


THE FALL OF WOLSEY, 1529-1580 . . . * .184 




ALL men are to be judged by what they do, and the way 
in which they do it. In the case of great statesmen there 
is a third consideration which challenges our judgment 
what they choose to do. This consideration only pre- 
sents itself in the case of great statesmen, and even then 
is not always recognised. For the average statesman 
does from day to day the business which has to be done, 
takes affairs as he finds them, and makes the best of 
them. Many who deliberately selected the questions 
with which they dealt have yet shrunk from the responsi- 
bility of their choice, and have preferred to represent 
their actions as inevitable. Pew can claim the credit of 
choosing the sphere of their activity, of framing a con- 
;n0cted policy with clear and definite ends, and of applying 
their ideas to every department of national organisation, 
In short, statesmen are generally opportunists, or choose 
f^'i^]^w^^ ; ^nDLselTes' Ml as such; and this has been 
especially the case with English statesmen amongst 
Wctoy stands out as a notable exception. Jfar 
claims recognition on grounds which apply to 

; " < " ' 


himself alone. His name is not associated with any great 
achievement, he worked out no great measure of reform, 
nor did he contribute any great political idea which was 
fruitful in after days. He was, above all things, a prac- 
tical man, though he pursued a line of policy which few 
understood, and which he did not stop to make intelli- 
gible. No very definite results came of it immediately, 
and the results which came of it afterwards were not 
such as Wolsey had designed. ' Yet, if we consider his 
actual achievements, we are bound to admit that he was 
probably the greatest political genius whom England has 
ever produced; for at a great crisis of European history 
he impressed England with a sense of her own importance, 
and secured for her a leading position in European 
affairs, which since his days has seemed her natural 

Thus Wolsey is to be estimated by what he chose to 
do rather than by what he did. He was greater than 
his achievements. Yet Wolsey's greatness did not rise 
beyond the conditions of his own age, and he left no 
legacy of great thought or high endeavour. The age in, 
which he lived was not one of lofty aspirations or noble 
aims \ but it was one of large designs and restless energy. 
No designs were cast in so large a mould as were those 
of Wolsey ; no statesman showed such skill as he did in 
weaving patiently the web of diglonaatic intrigue. His 
resources were small, and he husbanded them with care* 
He had a master who only dimly understood his objects, 
and whose personal whims and caprices had always to 
be conciliated. He was ill supplied with agents. His 
schemes often failed in detail ; but he was always ready 
to gather together the broken threads and resume Ms 


work without repining. In a time of universal restless- 
ness and excitement Wolsey was the most plodding, the 
most laborious, and the most versatile ,of those who 
laboured at statecraft 

The field of action which Wolsey deliberately chose 
was that of foreign policy, and his weapons were diplo- 
macy. The Englishmen of his time were like the 
Englishmen of to-day, and had little sympathy with his 
objects. Those who reaped the benefits of his policy 
gave him no thanks for it, nor did they recognise what 
they owed to him. Those who exulted In the course 
taken by the English Reformation regarded Wolsey as 
its bitterest foe, and never stopped to think that Wolsey 
trained the hands and brains which directed it ; -that 
Wolsey inspired England with the proud feeling of 
independence which nerved her to brave the public 
opinion of Europe ; that Wolsey impressed Europe with 
Buch a sense of England's greatness that she was allowed 
to go her own way, menaced but unassailed. The spirit 
which animated the England of the sixteenth century 
was due in no small degree to the splendour of Wolsey's 
successes, and to the way in which he stamped upon 
men's imagination a belief in England's greatness, E it 
is the characteristic of a patriot to believe that nothing 
is beyond the power of his country to achieve, then 
Wolsey was the most devoted patriot whom England ever 

When Wolsey came to power England was an up- 
start trying to claim for herself a decent position in the 
august society of European states. It 
cleverness that set her in a pl^cef^ 
she had Iny right to expect. For this purpose Wolsey 


schemed and intrigued; when one plan failed he was 
always ready with another. It mattered little what was 
the immediate object which he had in hand ; it mattered 
much that in pursuing it he should so act as to increase 
the credit of England, and create a belief in England's 
power. Diplomacy can reckon few abler practitioners 
than was Wolsey. 

There is little that is directly ennobling in the con- 
templation of such a career. It may be doubted if the 
career of any practical statesman can. be a really en- 
nobling study if we have all its activity recorded in 
detail At the best it tells us of much which seems 
disingenuous if not dishonest much in which nobility 
of aim or the complexity of affairs has to "be urged in 
extenuation of shifty words and ambiguous actions. 

The age in which Wolsey lived was immoral in the 
sense, in which all periods are immoral, when the old 
l^<?marks are disappearing and there is ff?>" cerfaihtjr 
about the future./ Morality in individuals and in states 
alike requires an orderly life, a perception of limits, a 
pursuit of definite ends, '.When order is shattered, 
when limits are removed, when all things seem possible, 
then political morality disappears. In jjich a condition 
was Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century. 
The old ideas, on which the mediaeval conception ol 
Christendom depended, were passing away. Ho, oue any 
longer regarded Christendom as one great common- 
wealth, presided over by Pope and Emperor, who were the 
guardians of international law and arbiters of interna- 
tional relations. TJw$JEmpire had l,oiig,,c,oa,sed tQ.dXftrcise 
any control, because it was destitute of strength- T?he 
Papacy, after .vainly endeavouring to unite Europe round 


the old cry of a crusade against the Turk, had discovered 
that there was no European power on which it could 
rely" lor" support. The old ideas were gone, the old 
tribunals were powerless, the old bonds of European 
union were dissolved. 

The first result of this decay in the mediaeval state- 
system, of Europe was the emergence of vague plans of 
a universal monarchy. The Empire and the Papacy had 
harmonised with the feudal conception of a regulative 
supremacy over vassals who were free to act within the 
limits of their obligations to their superior lord. When 
the old superiors were no longer recognised, the idea of 
a supremacy still remained; but there was no other 
basis possible for that supremacy than a basis of uni- 
versal sovereignty. It was long before any state was 
sufficiently powerful to venture on such a claim ; but the 
end of the fifteenth century saw France and Spain 
united into powerful kingdoms. In France, the policy 
of Louis XL succeeded in reducing the great feuda- 
tories, and established the power of the monarchy as the 
bond of union between provinces which were conscious 
of like interests. In Spain, the marriage of Ferdinand 
and Isabella united a warlike people who swept away 
the remains of the Moorish kingdom. Germany, though 
nominally it recognised one ruler, had sacrificed its 
national kingship to the futile claims of the Empire, 
The emperor had great pretensions, but was himself 
powerless, and the German princes steadily refused to 
lend him help to give reality to his high-sounding 
claims. \ Unconsciously to themselves, the rulers of 
France anct Spain were preparing to attempt the exten- 
sion of their power over the rest of Europe. ! 


France under Charles VIII was the first to give 
expression to this new idea of European politics. The 
Italian expedition of Charles VIII. marked the end 
of the Middle Ages, because it put forth a scheme 
of national aggrandisement which was foreign to 
medieval conceptions. The scheme sounded fantastic, 
and was still cast in the mould of medieval aspirations. 
The kingdom of Naples had long been in dispute 
between the houses of Arragon and Anjou. As heir 
to the Angevin line, Charles VIII. proposed to satisfy 
national pride by the conquest of Naples. Then he 
appealed to the old sentiment of Christendom by pro- 
claiming his design of advancing against Constantinople, 
expelling the Turk from Europe, and realising the ideal 
of mediaeval Christianity by planting once more the 
standard of the Cross upon the Holy Sepulchre at 

The first part of his plan succeeded with a rapidity 
and ease that bewildered the rest of Europe. The 
French conquest of Naples awakened men to the danger 
which threatened them. France, as ruler of Naples, 
could overrun the rest of Italy, and as master of the 
Pope could use the authority of the head of Christen- 
dom to give legitimacy to further schemes of aggression. 
A sense of common danger drew the other powers of 
Europe together ; and a League of Spain, the Empire, 
the Pope, Milan, and Venice forced Charles VIII to 
retire from Naples (1495), where the French conquests 
were rapidly lost. A threat of his return next year led 
to an emphatic renewal of the League and an assertion 
of the basis on which it rested " the mutual preserva- 
tion of states, so that the more powerful might not 


oppress the less powerful, and that each should keep 
what rightly belongs to him." 

This League marks a new departure in European 
affairs, ^There was no mention of the old ideas on which 
Europelwas supposed to rest. There was no recognition 
of papal or imperial supremacy; no principle of Euro- 
pean organisation was laid down. The existing state of 
things was to be maintained, and the contracting powers 
were to decide amongst themselves what rights and 
claims they thought fit to recognise. Such a plan might 
be useful to check French preponderance at the moment, 
but it was fatal to the free development of Europe. 
The states that were then powerful might grow in 
power ; those that were not yet strong were sure to be 
prevented from growing stronger. Dynastic interests 
were set up as against national interests. ; European 
affairs were to be settled by combinations of powerful 
states. / 

The results of this system were rapidly seen. France, 
of course, was checked for the time ; but France, in its 
turn, could enter the League and become a factor in 
European combinations. The problem now for states- 
men was how to use this concert of Europe for their own 
interests. Dynastic considerations were the most obvious 
means of gaining powerful alliances. %yal marriages 
became matters of the .greatest importance, because a 
lucky union of royal houses might secure a lasting pre- 
ponderance. The Emperor Maximilian married his son 
Philip to a daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. Death 
removed the nearer heirs to the Spanish rulers, and the 
son of Philip was heir to Austria, the Netherlands, and 
the Spanish kingdoms. The notion of a maintenance 


of European equilibrium faded away before such a 

This prospect, however, was only in the future. For 
the present there was an opportunity for endless scheming. 
The European League for the preservation of the existing 
state of things resisted any expansion on the part of 
smaller states, but encouraged compacts for aggression 
amongst the more powerful. France, Spain, and Ger- 
many had each of them a national existence, while Italy 
consisted of a number of small states. If Italy was to 
survive it was necessary that she should follow the 
example of her powerful neighbours, and consolidate 
herself as they had done. The only N state which was 
at that time likely to unite Italy was Venice ; and Venice, 
in consequence, became the object of universal jealousy. 
The concert of Europe was applied to the Venetian 
question, and discovered a solution of the simplest sort. 
Instead of allowing Venice to unite Italy, it was judged 
better to divide Venice. A secret agreement was made 
between Spain, France, the Emperor, and tie Pope that 
they would attack Venice simultaneously, deprive her of 
her possessions, and divide them amongst themselves. 
There was no lack of claims and titles to the possessions 
which were thus to be acquired. The powers of Europe, 
being judges in their own cause, could easily state their 
respective pleas and pronounce each other justified. 
The League of Cambrai, which was published at the 
en4 of 1508, was the first great production of the new 
system of administering public law in Europe. 

Anything more iniquitous could scarcely be, conceived. 
Venice deserved well at the hands of Europe, She had 
developed a great system of commerce with the East ; 


she was the chief bulwark against the advance of the 
Turkish power; she was the one refuge of Italian 
independence. Those very reasons marked her out for 
pillage by the powers who, claiming to act in the 
interests of Europe, interpreted these interests accord- 
ing to their own selfishness. Each power hoped to 
appropriate some of the profits of Venetian commerce ; 
each power wished for a slice of the domains of Italy. 
What the Turk did was a matter of little consequence ; 
he was not the object of immediate dread. 

This League of Cambrai witnessed the assimilation 
by the new system of the relics of the old. Imperial 
and papal claims were set in the foreground. Venice 
was excommunicated by the Pope, because she haxTQie" 
audacity to refuse to give up to him at once his share of 
the booty. The iniquities of the European concert were 
flimsily concealed by the rags of the old system of the 
public law of Europe, which only meant that the Pope 
and the Emperor were foremost in joining. in the general 
scramble. France was first in the field against Venice, 
and consequently France was the chief gainer. Pope 
Julius 'II., having won from Venice all that he could 
claim, looked with alarm on the increase of the French 
power in Italy. As soon as he had satisfied himself, and 
had reduced Venice to abject submission, his one desire 
was to rid himself of his troublesome allies. The papal 
authority in itself could no longer influence European 
politics ; but it could give a sanction to new combina- 
tions which interested motives might bring about. 
With cynical frankness tlxe Papacy,- powerless in its own 
reS'Crtfltses, used its privileged position to further its 
teiipoFal objects. We cannot wonder that Louis XII 


of France tried to create a schism, and promoted the 
holding of a general council. We are scarcely surprised 
that the fantastic brain of the Emperor Maximilian 
formed a scheme of becoming the Pope's coadjutor, and 
finally annexing the papal to the imperial dignity. On 
every side the old landmarks of Europe were disap- 
pearing, and the future was seen to belong to the strong 
hand and the adventurous wit. 

During the reign of Henry VII. England had stood 
aloof from these complicated intrigues. | , Indeed England 
could not hope to make her voice hearil in the affairs of 
Europe. The weak government of Henry VI., and the 
struggles between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions, 
had reduced her to political exhaustion. While France 
and Spain had grown into strong kingdoms, England 
had dwindled into a third-rate power. Henry VIL 
had enough to do in securing his own throne against 
pretenders, and in reducing the remnants of the feudal 
nobility to obedience. He so far worked in accordance 
with the prevailing spirit that he steadily increased the 
royal power. He fell in with the temper of the time, 
and formed matrimonial alliances which might bear 
political fruits. He gave his daughter in marriage to 
the King of Scotland, in the hopes of thereby bringing 
the Scottish Crown into closer relation with England. 
He sought for a connexion with Spain by marrying his 
eldest son Arthur to Katharine, a daughter of Ferdinand 
and Isabella, and on Arthur's untimely death Katharine 
became the wife of his next son Henry. Further, 
Henry VII. gave his general(approval to the League of 
1496 ; he joined it, but would promise no armed aid nor 
mongy. In short, he did enough to claim for England 


a place in the new system of the European common- 
wealth, though he himself declined to take any active 
part in the activity that was consequently developed. 
He was old before his years, and was unequal to any 
additional labour. He had saved his reputation by his 
cautions and skilful policy at home. The statesmen of 
Europe respected him for what he had done already, 
but they did not expect him to do anything more. LHe 
had secured his dynasty, reduced his lands to Border, 
favoured its commerce, and secured for it peace. , He 
had lived frugally and had saved money, which was not 
the fortune of the more adventurous princes. England 
was looked upon with an eye of condescending favour 
by the great powers of Europe. Her population was 
small, about three millions and a half; her militaiy 
forces had not been trained in the new methods of 
European warfare ; her navy was not kept up on a war 
footing. She could not rank higher than ^third-rate 

So England stood when Henry VII. died, and was 
succeeded by his son Henry VIII. , a youth oijoinfiteen. 
We may indulge ourselves, if we choose, in speculations 
on the probable effects if Henry VIII. had been content 
to pursue his father's policy. The picture of England, 
peaceful and contented while the rest of Europe is en- 
gaged in wasteful and wicked war, is attractive as an ideal 
in English politics. England in the sixteenth century 
might have stood aloof from European affairs, and might 
have prospered in her own fashion. But one thing is 
certain, that she would never have become the England 
*of to-day; the New World, and the possessions of the 
British Empire, would have been divided between France 


and Spain ; the course of civilisation would have been 
widely different. For good or for evil the fortunes oi 
England were given a decided direction by Henry VEIL's 
advance into the sphere of European politics. England 
took up a position from which she could not afterwards 

It is scarcely worth while to inquire if Henry VIII. 
could by prudence and caution have continued to keep 
clear of the complications of European politics, and 
make England strong by husbanding its resources and 
developing its commerce. Such a course of action was 
not deemed possible by any one. All classes alike 
believed that national prosperity followed upon the 
assertion of national power. The commercial interests 
of England would have had little chance of being re- 
spected unless they were connected with political interests 
as well. If Henry VIII. had lived frugally like his 
father, and avoided adventurous schemes for which he 
aeeded the money of his people, the English monarchy 
would have become a despotism, and the royal wil. 1 
would have been supreme in all internal affairs. Eng- 
land was not exposed to this danger. Henry VIIL 
when.,,Jie.a^eEded the throne at the age of nineteen, 
was fully imbued by the spirit of his time. The story 
goes that when Leo X. was elected Pope he turned tc 
his brother and said with a smile, "Let, us enjoy the 
Papacy, since God has given it to us." Henry VIIL 
was resolved to enjoy his kingship to the full ; ha 
wished to show Europe that he was every inch a king, 
and equal to the best. 

Henry VIIL in his early days had been educated. 
with a view to high ecclesiastical preferment, and was a 


youth of many accomplishments of mind and body. 
His tall stalwart frame, his fair round face and pro- 
fusion of light hair, his skill in athletic exercises, made 
the Venetian envoy pronounce him to be the handsomest 
and most capable king in Christendom. He inherited 
the geniality, the physical strength, the resoluteness of 
the Yorkist house, and combined them with the self- 
restraint and caution of the Lancastrians. No king 
began his reign with greater popularity, and the belief 
in the soundness of his head and heart filled all men 
with hopes of a long period of just and prosperous 
government But many hoped for more than this. 
The reign of Henry VII. had been successful, but in- 
glorious. The strong character and the generous im- 
pulses of the new ruler were not likely to be satisfied 
with the cautious intrigues and petty calculations of his 
father. ^England looked forward to a glorious and dis- 
tinguished future^ It believed in its king, and clave to 
its belief in spite of many disappointments. Not all 
the harsh doings of Henry VIII. exhausted the popu- 
larity with which he began his reign, and in the midst 
of his despotism he never lost his hold upon the people. 
So Henry VIII. carried out the plan which his father 
had formed for, him. He married Katharine, his 
brother's widow, and so confirmed the alliance with 
Ferdinand of Spain. He renewed the marriage treaty 
between his sister Mary and Charles, Prince of Castile, 
heir of the Netherlands, and eldest grandson of Ferdi- 
nand and Maximilian alike. Charles was only a boy of 
nine, and had great prospects of a large heritage. Eng- 
land was likely, if this arrangement were carried out, to 
be a useful but humble ally to the projects of the houses 


of Hapsburg and Spain, useful "because of its position, 
which commanded the Channel, and could secure com- 
munications between the Netherlands and Spain, humble 
because it had little military reputation or capacity for 

The alliance, however, between Ferdinand and 
Maximilian was by no means close. Ferdinand by his 
marriage with Isabella had united the kingdoms of 
Castile and Arragon ; but after Isabella's death he had 
no claim to the Crown of Castile, which passed to his 
daughter Juana. Already Juana's husband, the Arch- 
duke Philip, had claimed the regency of Castile, and 
Ferdinand was only saved by Philip's death from the 
peril of seeing much of his work undone. The claim to 
Castile had now passed to the young Charles, and 
Ferdinand was afraid lest Maximilian should at any 
time revive it in behalf of his grandson. He was "un* 
willing to help in any way to increase Maximilian's 
power, and rejoiced that in the results of the League 
of Cambrai little profit fell to Maximilian's share. The 
Pope gained all that he wished ; Ferdinand acquired 
without a blow the Tenetian possessions in the Neapoli- 
tan kingdom; the French amis wore triumphant in 
North Italy ; but Venice continued to offer a stubborn 
resistance to Maximilian. In vain Maximilian implored 
Ferdinand's help. He was unmoved till the successes 
of the French awakened in his mind serious alarm 
The authors of the League of Cambrai began to be 
afraid of the catastrophe which they had caused They 
did not wish to see the French supreme in Italy, but 
their combination had gone far to ensure the French 


Pope Julius II. felt himself most directly threatened 
by the growth of the French power. He resolved to 
break up the League of Cambrai,<and so undo his own 
work. He tried to gain support from the Swiss and 
from England. He released Venice from her excom- 
munication, and showed himself steadfastly opposed to 
France. He did his utmost to induce Ferdinand and 
Maximilian to renounce the League. Ferdinand was 
cautious, and only gave his secret countenance to the 
Pope's designs. Maximilian, anxious to make good his 
claims against Venice, wavered between an alliance with 
France and a rupture. Louis XII. of France was em- 
barrassed by the hostility of the Pope, whom he tried 
to terrify into submission. His troops advanced against 
Bologna, where Julius II. was residing. The Pope fled, 
but the French forces did not pursue him. Louis was 
not prepared to treat the Pope as merely a temporal 
sovereign, and Eome was spared a siege. But Louis 
was so ill-judging as to attack the Pope on his spiritual 
side. He raised the old cry of a General Council for the 
reform of the Church, and drew to his side a few dis- 
affected cardinals, who summoned a Council to assemble 
at Pisa. 

This half-hearted procedure was fatal to all hopes of 
French supremacy. Had Louis XII. promptly dealt 
with Julius II. by force of arms he would have rendered 
the Pope powerless to interfere with his political plans, 
and no one would have interposed to help the Pope 
in his capacity of an Italian prince. But when the 
French king showed that he was afraid of the papal 
dignity in temporal matters, while he was ready to 
attack it in spiritual matters, he entered upon a course 


of action which was dangerous to Europe. Ferdinand 
was waiting for a good pretext to free himself from 
further share in the policy of the League of Cambrai, 
and Louis provided him with the pretext which he 
sought. Shocked at the danger of a new schism, 
Ferdinand, in October 1511, entered into a League with 
the Pope and Venice, a League which took the high- 
sounding title of the Holy League, since it was formed 
for the protection of the Papacy. 
\ Of this Holy League Henry VIII. became a member 
in December, and so stepped boldly into the politics of 
Europe,^) He was at first a submissive son of King 
Ferdinand, whose daughter. Queen Katharine, acted as 
Spanish ambassador at the English Court. Henry 
wished to make common cause with his father-in-law, 
and trusted implicitly to him for assurances of goodwill. 
He made a separate accord with Ferdinand that a com- 
bined army should invade Guienne. If the French 
were defeated Ferdinand would be able to conquer 
N"avarre, and England would seke Guienne./ The gain 
to England would be great, as Guienne would be a 
secure refuge for English commerce, and its possession 
would make the English king an important personage 
in Europe, for he would stand between Spain and 

The scheme was not fantastic or impossible, provided 
that Ferdinand was in earnest. Henry believed in his 
good faith, but he still had the confidence of youth. 
Ferdinand trusted no one, and if others were like him- 
self he was wise in his distrust. Every year he grew 
more suspicious and fonder of crooked ways. He took 
no man's counsel; he made fair professions on every 


side ; his only object was to secure himself at the least 
cost. His confiding son-in-law was soon to discover 
that Ferdinand only meant to use English gold as a 
means for furthering his own designs against France ; he 
did not intend that England should have any share in 
the advantage. 

Unconscious of the selfishness of his ally, Henry VIII. 
prepared for war in the winter of 1512. In these pre- 
parations the capacity of Thomas Wolsey first made 
itself felt, and the course of the war that followed 
placed Wolsey foremost in the confidence of the English 




THOMAS WOLSEY was born at Ipswich, probably in 
March 1471. He was the son of Eobert Wolsey and 
Joan his wife. Contemporary slander, wishing to make 
his fortunes more remarkable or his presumption more 
intolerable, represented his father as a man of mean 
estate, a butcher by trade. However, Eobert Wolsey's 
will shows that he was a man of good position, probably 
a grazier and wool merchant, with relatives who were 
also well-to-do. Thomas seems to have been the eldest 
of his family, and his father's desire was that he should 
enter the priesthood. He showed quickness in study ; 
so much so that he went to Oxford at the early age of 
eleven, and became Bachelor of Arts when he was 
fifteen. His studies do not seem to have led him in 
the direction of the new learning ; he was well versed 
in the theology of the schools, and is said to have 
been a devoted adherent to the system of St. Thomas 
Aquinas. But it was not by the life of a student or 
the principles of a philosopher that "Wolsey rose to 
eminence. If he learned anything in his University 


career he learned a knowledge of men and of their 

In due course he became a Fellow .of Magdalen, 
and master of the grammar school attached to the 
College. Soon afterwards, in 1498, he was bursar; 
and tradition has connected with him the building of 
the graceful tower which is one of the chief architectural 
ornaments of Oxford. Unfortunately the tower was 
finished in the year in which Wolsey became bursar, and 
all that he can have done was the prosaic duty of paying 
the bills for its erection. He continued his work of 
schoolmaster till in 1500 the Marquis of Dorset, whose 
sons Wolsey had taught, gave him the living of Lym- 
ington in Somerset. 

So Wolsey abandoned academic life for the quietness 
of a country living, which, however, did not prove to be 
entirely free from troubles. For some reason which is 
not clear, a neighbouring squire, Sir Amyas Paulet, used 
his power as justice of peace to set Wolsey in the stocks, 
an affront which Wolsey did not forgive, but in the days 
of his power punished by confining Sir Amyas to his 
London house, where he lived for some years in dis- 
grace. If this story be true, it is certainly not to 
Wolsey's discredit, who can have been moved by nothing 
but a sense of injustice in thus reviving the remembrance 
of his own past history. Moreover, Wolsey's character 
certainly did not suffer at the time, as in 1501 he was 
made chaplain to Dean, Archbishop of Canterbury. 
After Dean's death in 1503, his capacity for business 
was so far established that he was employed by Sir 
Richard Nanfan, Deputy-Lieutenant of Calais, to help him 
in the duties of a post which advancing years made 


somewhat onerous. When Nanfan, a few years after- 
wards, retired from public life, he recommended Wolsey 
to the king, and "Wolsey entered the royal service as 
chaplain probably in 1506. 

At Court Wolsey allied himself with Eichard Fox, 
Bishop of Winchester, Lord Privy Seal, and at first 
seems to have acted as one of his secretaries. 

Fox was a well-trained and careful official, who had 
been in Henry VII. 's employment all through his reign. 
Cold and cautious by nature, Henry VII. had to pick 
his way through many difficulties, and took no man un- 
reservedly into his confidence. He was his own minister, 
and chose to be served by men of distinguished position 
who were content to do his bidding faithfully, and were 
free from personal ambition. For this purpose ecclesi- 
astics were best adapted, and Henry VII. did much to 
secularise the Church by throwing the weight of public 
business into the hands of men like Morton and Fox, 
whom he rewarded by the highest ecclesiastical offices. 
In such a school Wolsey was trained as a statesman. 
He regarded it as natural that the King should choose 
his ministers for their readiness to serve his purposes, 
and should reward them by ecclesiastical preferments. 
The State might gain by such a plan, but the Church 
undoubtedly lost ; and in following the career of Wolsey 
there is little to remind us of the ecclesiastic, however 
much we may admire the statesman. 

It was well for England that Wolsey was trained in 
the traditions of the policy of Henry VII, which he 
never forgot. Henry VII. aimed, in the first place, at 
securing his throne and restoring quiet and order in his 
kingdom by developing trade and commerce. For thia 


purpose he strove to turn Ms foreign neighbours into 
allies without adventuring into any military enterprises. 
He did not aspire to make England great, but he tried 
to make her secure and prosperous. Wolsejr gained 
so much insight into the means which he employed for 
that end that he never forgot their utility and though 
he tried to pass beyond the aim of Henry VII, he 
preferred to extend rather than abandon the means 
which Henry VII. had carefully devised. Nor was Wolsey 
merely a spectator of Henry VII. 's diplomacy ; he was 
soon employed as one of its agents., In the spring of 
1508 he was sent to Scotland to keep King James IV. 
true to his alliance with England, and explain misunder- 
standings that had arisen. In the autumn of the same 
year he was sent to Mechlin to win over the powerful 
minister of Maximilian, the Bishop of Grurk, to a pro- 
ject of marriage between Henry VII. and Maximilian's 
daughter Margaret, by which Henry hoped that he 
would get control of the Low Countries. Here Wolsey 
learned his first practical lesson of diplomatic methods, 
and uttered the complaint, which in later years he gave 
so much reason to others to pour forth, ,>" There is here 
so much inconstancy, mutability, and little regard of 
promises and causes, that in their appointments there is 
little trust or surety; for things surely determined to 
be done one day are changed and altered the next." 

Nothing came of Wolsey's embassy, nor can we be 
sure that Henry VII. was much in earnest in his 
marriage schemes. However, he died in April next 
year, and was succeeded by a son whose matrimonial 
hesitations were destined to give Wolsey more trouble 
than those of his father. Before his death he laid the 


foundation of Wolsey's clerical fortunes by bestowing 
on him the rich deanery of Lincoln. 

The accession of Henry VIII. made little change in 
the composition of the King's Council. The Lady 
Margaret survived her son long enough to make her in- 
fluence felt in the choice of her grandson's advisers. 
Archbishop "Warham, Bishop Fox, and Thomas Howard, 
Earl of Surrey, were the men into whose hands public 
business naturally fell. But Warham was somewhat 
stiff and crabbed, so that he did not commend himself 
to the young king. Fox represented the opinions of 
the old officials, while the Earl of Surrey was the natural 
leader of the old nobility, who could not help resenting 
the subordinate position into which they had been re- 
duced by Henry VII., and hoped that a new reign would 
give them fresh opportunities. So Fox urged caution 
and carefulness, while Surrey favoured extravagance and 
military ambition. Fox felt that he was growing old, 
and the pressure of a continued conflict of opinion was 
irksome to him. Much as the ecclesiastics of that time 
were secular in their lives, they were rarely entirely for- 
getful of their priestly office, and were genuinely anxious 
to rid themselves of the burden of affairs and spend their 
last years in quiet. So Fox chose Wolsey as the man 
to take his place, perhaps because he saw in him the 
qualities necessary to influence the young king. Besides 
him he favoured Euthal, another experienced official, 
who was rewarded by the rich bishopric of Durham, but 
who was soon eclipsed by the superior genius of Wolsey, 
which he frankly admitted, and willingly accepted the 
post of Wolsey's assistant and subordinate. 

So Wolsey was made the king's almonei^knd had 


sundry preferments bestowed on him as marks of the 
royal favour. He ingratiated himself with the king ; 
and worked with Fox and Euthal to counteract the in- 
fluence of the Earl of Surrey. Probably in 1511 he 
was called to the King's Council, but neither he nor 
Fox had it in their power to shape the king's policy as 
they wished, or to direct his doings. His warlike ardour 
was against their will ; but from the beginning of his 
reign Henry VIII. went his own way, and others had to 
follow. All they could do was to show him that they 
were the most capable of his servants, and when Henry 
VIII. had determined on war they were the men to 
whom he turned to carry out the necessary details. ' On 
Wolsey as the youngest the chief labour was thrown. 
England was unprepared for war, and every branch of 
the military service had to be almost created. Wolsey 
had at all events a sufficient opportunity for displaying 
his practical capacity as an organiser. 

So Wolsey worked at providing for the troops who 
were sent to Guienne in 1512 ; but the expedition 
itself was a complete failure. Ferdinand played his own 
game of procrastination, and sent no succours. The 
Marquis of Dorset was an incapable leader. The English 
troops were not inured to hardships, and soon grew 
discontented; at last they rose in open mutiny, and 
clamoured to be led back to England. Dorset was 
driven to retire without striking a blow. The first 
attempt of England to assert her prowess ended in 
disaster. The statesmen of the Continent made merry 
over the blundering efforts of an upstart power. 
"The English," they said, "are so unaccustomed to war 
that they have no experience to guide them." Henry 


longed to wipe out this disgrace, and prepared tc 
invade the north of France in the next year. Wolsey 
was not yet of sufficient importance to direct the 
king's policy, and had no experience of war. But 
he threw himself heart and soul into the task of 
military organisation, and the administrative capacity 
which he displayed secured his hold on the king's 
favour. He provided for victualling the fleet, raised the 
necessary number of ships, selected their captains, and 
even apportioned the gunners. Nothing was too trivial 
for his attention, even down to beer-barrels and biscuits, 
It is not surprising that ,his colleague, Bishop Fox, wrote 
to him, "I pray God send us with speed, and soon deliver 
you of your outrageous charge and labour." 
\ The fleet put to sea in March 1513, under the com- 
mand of the Lord Admiral Sir Edward Howard. The 
French fleet was far superior in numbers, and prepared 
to prevent the English from landing on the French 
coast. Sir Edward Howard was burning with desire 
for a decisive engagement, and on 25th April attacked 
the French galleys as they lay in shallow water. 
He boarded them with his boats, and himself leapt 
on to the ship of the French admiral, but before his 
men could follow him their cable was cut away, and he 
was left almost alone. Seeing that there was no hope 
of support, he took his whistle from his neck and cast 
it into the sea ; then with his gilt target on his arm he 
fought till the enemy's pikes thrust him overboard and 
he was drowned. The English attack was driven back ; 
but its gallantry and the bravery of Sir Edward Howard 
produced a great impression. It was clear that after 
all the Englishmen had not forgotten how to fight. 


The efforts of the English fleet were successful in 
securing the peaceful landing of the army at Calais, 
where Henry arrived at the end of June. "With him 
went Wolsey, commanding two hundred men, and now a 
necessary personage in the king's train. Such confidence 
was placed in him by Queen Katharine that she requested 
him to write to her frequently and inform her of the 
king's health, while in return she poured her household 
troubles into his sympathetic ear. Kb doubt Wolsey's 
hands were full of business of many kinds during this 
brief and glorious campaign, glorious in the sense that 
success attended its operations, but fruitless because the 
things done were scarcely worth the doing. The English 
army took Terouenne, more owing to the feeble- 
ness of the French than to their own valour. Louis 
XII. was prematurely old and ailing ; things had gone 
against him in Italy, and there was little spirit in the 
French army. The defeat of the French outside Terou- 
enne was so rapid that the battle was derisively called 
the Battle of Spurs. Henry's desire for martial glory 
was satisfied by the surrender of Terouenne, and his 
vanity was gratified by the presence of Maximilian, 
who in return for a large subsidy brought a few German 
soldiers, and professed to serve under the English king. 
From Terouenne he advanced to Touraai, which sur- 
rendered at the end of September. Maximilian was 
delighted at these conquests, of which he reaped all the 
benefit; with Tournai in the hands of England, Flanders 
had a strong protection against France. So Maximilian 
would gladly have led Henry to continue the campaign 
in the interests of the Flemish frontier. But Henry 
had no taste for spending a winter in the field; he 


pleaded that his presence was needed in England, and 
departed, promising to return next year. 

In truth the arms of England had won a greater vic- 
tory on English ground than anything they had achieved 
abroad. The war against France awakened the old 
hostility of Scotland, and no sooner was Henry VIII. 
encamped before Terouenne than he received a Scottish 
herald bringing a message of defiance. "I do not 
believe that my brother of Scotland will break his 
oath," said Henry, " but if he does, he will live to repent 
it." Eepentance came rapidly on the Field of Flodden, 
where the Scottish army was almost cut to pieces. This 
brilliant victory was greatly due to the energy of 
Queen Katharine, who wrote to Wolsey, "My heart is 
very good to it, and I am horribly busy with making 
standards, banners, and badges." She addressed the 
English leaders before they started for the war, bade 
them remember that the English courage excelled that of 
other nations, and that the Lord smiled on those who 
stood in defence of their own. With a proud heart she 
sent her husband the blood-stained plaid of the Scottish 
king, taken from his corpse. " In this," she wrote, 
" your Grace shall see how I keep my promise, sending 
you for your banner a king's coat/' 

The victory of Flodden Field was of great importance, 
for it delivered England from the fear of a troublesome 
neighbour, and showed Europe that England could not 
be muzzled by the need of care for her own borders. 
The Scottish power was broken for injmy years io come, 
and England was free to act as she would. Europe 
began to respect the power of England, 'though there 
was little reason to rate highly the wisdom of her 


king. Henry had won little by his campaign ; he had 
gratified his vanity, but he had not advanced towards any 
definite end. 

Henry VIII. was young and simple. He expected to 
captivate the world by brilliant deeds, and fascinate it 
by unselfish exploits. He soon found that his pretended 
allies were only seeking their own advantage. The 
name of the "Holy League" was the merest pretext. 
The new Pope, Leo X., a supple time-serving intriguer, 
trained in the deceitful policy of the Medici House, was 
willing to patch up the quarrel between France and the 
Papacy. Ferdinand of Spain wished only to keep things 
as they were. As he grew older he grew more suspicious, 
and clung to the power which he possessed. His one 
dread was lest Charles, the grandson of himself and 
Maximilian, should demand his maternal heritage of 
Castile. Ferdinand was resolved to keep the two Spanish 
kingdoms united under his own rule until his death, and 
considered European affairs in the first instance as they 
were likely to affect that issue. He was of opinion that 
France was no longer formidable to Spanish interests in 
Italy, while English successes on the Flemish frontier 
might make Charles more powerful than he wished him 
to be. ^Accordingly he set to work to undermine 
Henry's ^position by making an alliance with France. 
He was still Henry's ally, and had promised him to hel]5 
him to continue the war in the spring of 1514. None the 
less he entered into secret negotiations with France, and 
cautiously endeavoured to persuade Maximilian to joinhim. 
Maximilian was still at war with Venice, and was aggrieved 
that he was the only member of the plundering gang 
who had not gained by the League of Cambrai Fer- 


dinand allured him from his interest in Flanders by the 
prospect of a renewal of the League against Venice in his 
special behalf, and Maximilian was sanguine enough to 
listen to the temptation. He faintly stipulated that the 
consent of England should be obtained, but was satisfied 
with Ferdinand's assurance that Henry would have no 
Abjection to a truce with France. Early in April 1514 
a truce for a year was made between Louis XIL, 
Maximilian, and Ferdinand. Henry found himself 
tricked by his father-in-law, and abandoned by the 
ally whom he had largely subsidised, and had greatly 

It is no wonder that Henry was greatly angered at 
this result, and declared that he would trust no man 
any more. He had taken the measure of the good 
faith of European rulers, and had learned the futility 
of great undertakings for the general welfare. In 
truth, the difficulty of European politics always lies in 
the fact that the general welfare can only be promoted 
by the furtherance of particular interests, which threaten 
in their turn to become dangerous. The interests of the 
sixteenth century were purely dynastic interests, and 
seem trivial and unworthy. "We are not, however, justi- 
fied in inferring that dynastic interests, because they are 
concerned with small arrangements, are in their nature 
more selfish or more iniquitous than interests which 
clothe themselves in more fair-sounding phrases. Their 
selfishness is more apparent ; it does not follow that it is 
less profound. 

However that may be, the desertion of Maximilian 
and Ferdinand put a stop to Henry's warlike projects, 
and restored England to peaceA Henry had had enough 


of fighting other people's battles. He was willing to 
pursue his own course by the means which others used, 
and trust henceforth to the bloodless battles of diplomacy. 
In this new field Wolsey was the English champion, and 
for the next sixteen years the history of England is the 
history of Wolsey 7 s achievements. '; 

Wolsey 7 s services in the campaign of 1513 gave Mm a 
firm hold of the king's favour, and secured for him large 
rewards. As he was an ecclesiastic his salary was paid 
out of the revenues of the Church. When Tournai 
became an English possession its bishopric was conferred 
on Wolsey, and on a vacancy in the bishopric of Lincoln 
in the beginning of 1514 that see was given him in 
addition. How the offices of the Church were in those 
days used as rewards for service to the State may be seen 
by the fact that the English representative in Borne was 
the Archbishop of York, Thomas Bainbridge, who lived 
as Cardinal in the Papal Court. Moreover, an Italian, 
Silvestro de ? Gigli, held the bishopric of Worcester, 
though he lived habitually in Borne, and devoted his 
energies to the furtherance of the interests of England. 
In July 1514 Cardinal Bainbridge died in Borne, poisoned 
by one of his servants. The Bishop of Worcester was 
suspected of being privy to the deed for the purpose of 
removing out of the way a troublesome rival. It would 
seem, however, that the murder was prompted by venge- 
ful feelings and the desire to hide peculations. The 
charge against the Bishop of Worcester was investigated 
by the Pope, and he was acquitted ; but the story gives 
a poor picture of morality and security of life at Borne. 
On the death of Bainbridge the vacant archbishopric of 
York was also conferred on Wolsey, who was now 


enriched by the revenues of three sees, and was clearly 
marked out as the foremost man in England. 

He rose to this position solely by the king's favour, as 
the king alone chose his own ministers and counsellors, 
and there existed no external pressure which could in- 
fluence his decisions.^ The Wars of the Roses had seen 
the downfall of the baronial power, and Henry VII. had 
accustomed men to see affairs managed almost entirely 
by a new class of officials. The ministers and coun- 
sellors of Henry VIII. were chosen from a desire to 
balance the old and the new system. The remnants of 
the baronial party were associated with officials, that 
they might be assimilated into the same class. The 
Duke of Norfolk, as the greatest nobleman in England, 
was powerful, and was jealous of the men with whom he 
found himself called upon to work. Charles Brandon, 
Duke of Suffolk, was the personal friend of the king, 
and shared in his private more than in his public life. 
The Earl of Surrey had done good service at Flodden 
Field, and was a man of practical capacity. The other 
ministers were most of them ecclesiastics. Warham, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, was respected rather than 
trusted. Fox, Bishop of Winchester, was a capable and 
painstaking official. Euthal, Bishop of Durham, was 
destitute of real insight, and was content to follow 
Wolsey's lead. Wolsey won his way by his political 
genius, his quickness, and his vast power of detailed 
work. He owed his position entirely to the king, and 
was responsible to him alone. The king consulted his 
Council only about such matters as he thought fit; 
foreign affairs were managed almost entirely according te- 
his own will and pleasure. 


The English have never been famous for diplomacy, 
and Wolsey was ..ill supplied with agents for his work 
The English resfdents at foreign Courts were not men 
of mark or position. John Stile at the Court of 
Ferdinand, and Thomas Spinelly in Flanders seem to 
have been merchants carrying on their own business. 
With Maximilian was a more important man, Sir 
Richard Wingfield, a Suffolk knight, who was too self- 
satisfied and too dull-witted to understand Wolsey's 
schemes. For special work special agents had to be 
sent, who went unwillingly to a thankless and laborious 
task. They were ill paid and ill supported ; but even 
here "Wolsey knew how to choose the right men, and 
he managed to inspire them with his own zeal and 
tenacity of purpose. It is a striking proof of Wolsey's 
genius that he knew whom he could trust, and that his 
trust was never misplaced. 

When Henry VIII. was smarting under his rebuff 
from Maximilian and Ferdinand, he concerted with 
Wolsey how he might avenge himself, and Wolsey 
devised his scheme in entire secrecy. Ferdinand and 
Maximilian had left England in the lurch by making a 
truce with France. Wolsey resolved to outdo them in 
their own lines. They had elected to maintain the ex- 
isting condition of affairs by checking England's aspira- 
tions and lending a cold support to France. Wolsey 
resolved to turn France into a firm ally, that so England 
and France united might form a new combination, before 
which the schemes of Ferdinand would be powerless. 

Wolsey luckily had the means of approaching Louis 
XII. without . attracting attention. Amongst the 
prisoners taken in the Battle of the Spurs was the 


young Duke of Longueville, a favourite of the French 
king. He had been sent to London, to the sore disturb- 
ance of Queen Katharine, who, being a sensible woman, 
thought that the best thing to do with a prisoner was 
to confine him in the Tower. On Henry's return 
the Duke of Longueville was released, and amused 
himself at Court like any one else. Through him 
Wolsey opened up secret communications with Louis 
XII., whose domestic circumstances luckily gave a handle 
for Wolsey 's designs. In January 1514 the French 
queen died; and although the widowed husband had 
reached the age of fifty-two, it was known that he was 
looking out for a young bride. 

It has always been one of the most revolting features 
of dynastic politics that the private relationships of 
members of ruling families have been entirely deter- 
mined by considerations of dynastic expediency. In 
the sixteenth century this was eminently the case. 
Alliances were family arrangements, and corresponded 
to motives of family aggrandisement rather than to 
national interests. They were sealed by marriages, 
they were broken by divorces. So great were the 
responsibilities of royalty that the private life of mem- 
bers of royal houses was entirely, sunk in their official 
position. They were mere counters to be moved 
about the board at will, and disposed of according to 
the needs of family politics. Such a victim of circum- 
stances was Henry YIII/s younger sister, the Princess 
Mary, a bright and intelligent girl of seventeen. She 
was betrothed to Charles, Prince of Castile, and it had 
been arranged that the marriage should take place 
when he reached the age of fourteen. The time was 


come for the fulfilment of the promise ; but Ferdinand 
did not wish to see his troublesome grandson more 
closely united to England, which had shown such am- 
bitious inclinations. Maximilian, the guardian of 
Charles, wavered between his desire to please Henry 
and Ferdinand, and invented one excuse after another 
for not proceeding with his grandson's marriage. 

"Wolsey allowed Maximilian to go on with his shifty 
talk, and was only too glad to see him fall into the trap. 
His negotiations with France were progressing, and the 
outward sign of the new alliance was to be the marriage 
of Mary to Louis XII. So secretly were the arrange- 
ments made that Europe was taken by surprise when, 
at the end of July, it was gradually known that the 
alliance between France and England was an accom- 
plished fact.^ The marriage contract was soon signed, 
and in October Mary went to Abbeville, where she was 
met by her elderly husbandry 

\ The result of this clever diplomacy was to secure 
England the respect and envy of Europe. X It was clear 
that henceforth England was a power widen had to be 
reckoned with. Ferdinand was taught that he could 
no longer count on using his dutiful son-in-law as he 
thought most convenient to himself. Maximilian sadly 
reflected that if he needed English gold in the future he 
must show a little more dexterity in his game of playing 
fast and loose with everybody. Pope Leo X. was not over- 
pleased at seeing England develop a policy of her own, 
and looked coldly on Wolsey. After the death of Car- 
dinal Bainbridge Henry wrote to the Pope and begged 
him to make Wolsey cardinal in his room. " Such are 
his merits," said the king, " that I esteem him above 



my dearest friends, and can do nothing of importance 
without him." Leo X. coldly replied that there were 
great difficulties in the way of creating a cardinal : the 
title, he reminded the king, was much sought after, and 
admitted its bearer to the highest rank : he must wait a 
more suitable time. It would seem that the Pope 
wished to have further guarantees of England's good- 
will, and hinted that "Wolsey must give pledges of his 
good behaviour. 

England did not long enjoy the diplomatic victory 
which Wolsey had won by his brilliant scheme of 
a French alliance. Henry still had a longing for 
military glory, with which Wolsey had little sympathy. 
He wished to revenge himself on his perfidious father- 
in-law, and proposed to Louis XII. an attack upon 
Navarre, and even thought of claiming a portion of the 
kingdom of Castile, as rightfully belonging to Queen 
Katharine. Whatever projects Henry may have had 
came to an end on the death of Louis on the 1st of 
January 1515. The elderly bridegroom, it was said, tried 
too well to humour the social disposition of his sprightly 
bride. He changed his manner of life, and kept late 
hours, till his health entirely gave way, and he sank 
under his well-meant efforts to renew the gallantry oi 



THE death of Louis XII. was a severe blow to Wolsey. 
The French alliance was not popular in England, and 
was bitterly opposed by the Duke of Norfolk and the 
party of the old nobility, who saw with dislike the growing 
influence of Wolsey. They now had an opportunity of 
reversing his policy and securing his downfall. It required 
all Wolsey's sagacity to devise a means of solving the 
difficulties which the death of Louis created. The new 
king of France, Francis L, was aged twenty-one, and 
was as ambitious of distinction as was Henry. The 
treaty between France and England had not yet been 
carried out, and it would require much dexterity to 
modify its provisions. The kings of the sixteenth 
century were keen men of business, and never let money 
slip through their hands. The widowed Queen of 
France must, of course, return to England, but there 
were all sorts of questions about her dowry and the 
jewels which Louis had given her. . Henry claimed that 
she should bring back with her everything to which any 
title could be urged: Francis I. wished to give up as 


little as possible. The two monarchs haggled like two 
hucksters, and neither of them had any care of the 
happiness or reputation of the young girl round whom 
they bickered. In the background stood Wolsey's 
enemies, who saw that if they could create a rupture 
between France and England Wolsey's influence would 
be at an end. 

In these dangerous conditions Wolsey had to seek an 
ally in Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and had to 
trust to his private knowledge of the character of Queen 
Mary. She had the strong will of the Tudors, and had 
also their craving for admiration. These two qualities 
seem to have drawn her in opposite directions. While 
her marriage with Prince Charles was talked of she pro- 
fessed the greatest admiration for him, and gazed with 
rapture on a very bad portrait of her intended husband. 
Eut this did not prevent her from being attracted by 
the personal fascinations of the Duke of Suffolk, as 
"Wolsey knew. When he negotiated the French alliance 
he had some difficulty in overcoming Mary's repugnance 
to an old husband; but she viewed the proposal in a 
business-like way, and was not indifferent to the position 
of Queen of France. She looked forward to a speedy 
widowhood, and extracted from Henry a promise that, 
if she undertook to marry for the first time to please 
him, she might choose her second husband to please 
herself. When Mary was free the hopes of the Duke 
of Suffolk revived, and Wolsey knowing this, chose 
him as the best instrument for clearing away the diffi- 
culties raised by Francis I, and bringing back Mary 
honourably to England. 

Francis, on his side, used his knowledge of the current 


rumour to extract from Mary her confidences about Suffolkj 
and with this knowledge approached Suffolk as a friend. 
By alternately encouraging Suffolk and terrifying Mary 
he turned Wolsey's ambassador into an anxious lover. 
Still Wolsey trusted that Suffolk would the more bestir 
himself to bring Mary back, and would make such terms 
with Francis as would commend his suit to Henry. But 
Wolsey's enemies led Henry to make exorbitant de- 
mands, which Francis met by redoubling his persecution 
. of Mary. At last she asked Suffolk to marry her, which 
he did in secret. After this Francis was free from any 
further need of conciliating Henry, who must take back 
his sister on any terms, and Wolsey was left to appease 
Henry as best he could. In April Mary and Suffolk 
returned to England, and in May the luckless pair were 
publicly married. Wolsey manfully befriended Suffolk in 
this matter, but the calculations of his diplomacy were hope- 
lessly upset by private feelings and the rashness of passion. 
However, Mary received part of her dowry and 
some of her jewels. Francis I. had no wish to quarrel 
with England, but only to make the best terms for him- 
self. He was bent upon gathering laurels in Italy, and 
on 5th April renewed the alliance between France and 
England. This time, however, the treaty was little 
more than a truce, and many questions were left un- 
touched ; no mention was made of the return of Tournai, 
and the question of Mary's jewels was left undecided. 
Francis I. counted on keeping England quiet by an 
alliance which he formed at the same time with Ferdi- 
nand, while he won over the Flemish counsellors of Prince 
Charles, who betrothed himself to the infant daughter 
of Louis XII, Een6e, a child of four. 


Thus he had cleared the way for an expedition 
to Italy, where he longed to claim for France the 
Duchy of Milan, that had been won and lost by Louis 
XII. In July he set out contentedly, knowing that 
Henry was powerless to interfere. He treated England 
with neglect, and gave Henry no information of his 
movements. England looked on with growing jealousy 
while Francis crossed the Alps and in September 
defeated the Swiss mercenaries who held Milan in 
the name of the last Sforza Duke. The battle of Mar- 
ignano (14th September) was a splendid success for 
Francis, who there beat back the Swiss infantry, hitherto 
considered invincible in Europe. The star of France 
had risen, and Francis could look round with proud 

The princes of Europe were alarmed beyond measure at 
the completeness of the French success. They had looked 
with equanimity at the preparations of Francis, because 
they expected that he would be delayed, or, if he 
attacked the Swiss, would be defeated. But his rapid 
march soon convinced men that he was in earnest, and 
especially excited the fear of Pope Leo X., whose ingenious 
policy of being secretly allied with everybody was dis- 
turbed by this display of unexpected vigour. The 
alarm of the Pope was useful to Wolsey. It awakened 
him to the need of making the English king his friend, 
and fulfilling his desire to have Wolsey created cardinal 
Wolsey had not ceased, through his agent, the Bishop of 
Worcester, to urge this point upon the Pope, and when 
Francis was well advanced on his road to Milan the 
pleadings of "Wolsey were irresistible. " If the King of 
England forsake the Pope," wrote Wolsey to the Bishop 


of Worcester, ce he will be' in greater danger on this day 
two years than ever was Pope Julius." Leo X. had no 
wish to run the risks which the impetuous Julius II. 
faced with unbroken spirit. He prepared to keep him- 
self supplied with allies to protect him against all emerg- 
encies, and on 10th September nominated Wolsey cardinal 
sole, a special mark of favour, as cardinals were 
generally created in batches at intervals"." 

Wolsey's creation was not popular in the Roman 
Court. Cardinal Bainbridge had been overbearing in 
manner and hasty in temper, and the English were dis- 
liked for their outspokenness. England was regarded 
as a political upstart, and Wolsey was considered to be 
a fitting emblem of the country which he represented. 
Moreover, the attitude of England in ecclesiastical 
matters was not marked by that subservience which the 
Papacy wished to exact, and many doubted the ex- 
pediency of exalting in ecclesiastical authority an English 
prelate of such far-reaching views as Wolsey was known 
to hold. An official of the Roman Court gives the 
following account of the current opinion : 

" Men say that an English Cardinal ought not to be 
created lightly, because the English behave themselves 
insolently in that dignity, as was shown in the case of 
Cardinal Bainbridge just dead. Moreover, as Wolsey is 
the intimate friend of the king, he will not be contented 
with the Cardinalate alone, but, as is the custom of 
these barbarians, will wish to have the office of legate 
over all England. If this be granted the influence of 
the Roman Court will be at an end ; if it be not granted 
the Cardinal will be the Pope's enemy and will favour 
France. But despite all this the Pope, in whose hands 


alone the matter was, created him Cardinal on the 
seventh of September." 

This elevation of Wolsey was due to the strong 
expression of desire on the part of Henry, who further 
asked that legatine powers should be given to the 
new cardinal This Leo refused for the present; 
he had done enough to induce Henry to enter into a 
secret league for the protection of the Church, which 
meant a convenient pretext for attacking Francis 
if he became too powerful in Italy. When this was 
arranged the red hat was sent to England, and its re- 
ception gave Wolsey an opportunity of displaying his 
love for magnificent ceremonial. On 17th November 
it was placed on his head by Archbishop Warham in 
Westminster Abbey. 

Ceremonial, however splendid, was but an episode in 
Wolsey's diplomatic business. The news of the French 
victory at Marignano was so unpleasant that Henry VIII 
for some time refused to believe it to be true. When 
at last it was impossible to doubt any longer, the 
necessity became urgent to put a spoke in the wheel of 
Francis I. England was not prepared to go to war 
with France without allies, and Wolsey developed his 
cleverness in attaining his ends by secret means. No- 
thing could be done by uniting with the cautious 
Ferdinand; but the flighty Maximilian was a more 
hopeful subject. The only troops that could be used 
against France were the German and Swiss mercenaries, 
men who made war a trade, and were trained and dis- 
ciplined soldiers. The first means of injuring France was 
to prevent her from hiring Swiss soldiers, and the 
second was to induce Maximilian to undertake an 


Italian expedition in his own interests. As regards the 
Swiss, it was merely a matter of money, for they were 
ready to sell themselves to the highest bidder. In like 
manner it was easy to subsidise Maximilian, but it was 
difficult to hold him to his promise and be sure that he 
would spend the money on the right purpose. Wolsey, 
however, resolved to try and use Maximilian ; he offered 
him the aid of a large contingent of the Swiss if he 
would attack Milan. Knowing the delicacy of the 
enterprise and the slipperiness of Maximilian, Wolsey 
entrusted this matter to a man whose pertinacity had 
been already tried, Richard Pace, secretary of Cardinal 
Bainbridge, who had stubbornly insisted on an investiga- 
tion of the circumstances of his master's death, and had 
annoyed the Eoman Court by his watchful care of his 
master's effects. Pace was sent to hire soldiers amongst 
the Swiss, and Wolsey's ingenuity was sorely tried to 
supply him with money secretly and safely. 

The hindrances which beset Pace in carrying out his 
instructions decorously were very many. Not the least 
troublesome was the want of intelligence displayed by 
Sir Eobert Wingfield, the English envoy to Maximilian. 
Wingfield belonged to the old school of English officials, 
honest and industrious, but entirely incapable of finesse. 
He did not understand what Pace was about ; he could 
not comprehend Wolsey's hints, but was a blind admirer 
of Maximilian, and was made his tool in his efforts to 
get the gold of England and do nothing in return. But 
Pace was deaf to the entreaties of Maximilian and to 
the lofty remonstrances of Wingfield. He raised 17,000 
Swiss soldiers, who were to serve under their own 
general, and whose pay was not to pass through Maxi- 


milian's hands. Maximilian was sorely disappointed at 
this result, but led his troops to join the Swiss in an 
attack on Milan. On 24th March 1516, the combined 
army was a few miles from Milan, which was poorly 
defended, and victory seemed secure. Suddenly Maxi- 
milian began to hesitate, and then drew off his forces 
and retired. We can only guess at the motive of this 
strange proceeding; perhaps he had never been in 
earnest, and only meant to extract money from England. 
When Pace refused to pay he probably negotiated with 
Francis I, and obtained money from him. Anyhow his 
withdrawal was fatal to the expedition. The G-ermans 
at Brescia seized the money which was sent to Pace for 
the payment of the Swiss. The Swiss in anger muti- 
nied, and Pace was for some days thrown into prison. 
Maximilian vaguely promised to return, but the Swisa 
troops naturally disbanded. Such was Maximilian's 
meanness that he threatened Pace, now deserted and 
broken by disappointment, that if he did not advance 
him money he would make peace with France. Pace, 
afraid to run the risk, pledged Henry VIII. to pay 
60,000 florins. All this time Wingfield was convinced 
that it was Pace's ill-judged parsimony that had wrought 
this disaster, and he continued to write in a strain of 
superior wisdom to Wolsey. He even, at Maximilian's 
bidding, forged Pace's name to receipts for money. 
Never was diplomat in more hopeless plight than the 
unlucky Pace. 

Wolsey saw that his plan had failed, but he put a 
good face upon his failure. Maximilian enjoyed the 
advantage which consummate meanness always gives 
for a moment. He put down the failure to niggardli- 


ness in the supplies, and showed his goodwill towards 
Henry by treating him to fantastic proposals. If 
Henry would only cross to Flanders with 6000 men, 
Maximilian would meet him with his army, set him 
up as Duke of Milan, and resign the Empire in his 
favour. This preposterous scheme did not for a moment 
dazzle the good sense of the English counsellors. Pace, 
in announcing it to Wolsey, pointed out that the Emperor 
spoke without the consent of the Electors, that Maxi- 
milian was thoroughly untrustworthy, and that Henry 
in such an enterprise might imperil his hold upon the 
English Crown, "which," writes Pace with pardonable 
pride, " is this day more esteemed than the Emperor's 
crown and all his empire." Henry was of the same 
opinion ; and Maximilian failed on this plea " to pluck 
money from the king craftily." Pace remained, and 
jingled English money in Maximilian's ear, as a means 
of preventing him from turning to France ; but not a 
penny was Maximilian allowed to touch, to Sir Eobert 
Wingfield's great annoyance. Pace so far succeeded, that 
when, in November 1516, Francis I. made an alliance 
with the Swiss, five of the cantons stood aloof. Pace 
was rewarded for his labours and sufferings by being 
made a secretary of state. Sir Eobert Wingfield received 
a severe rebuke from the king, which sorely disturbed 
his self-complacency. But it is characteristic of Wolsey's 
absence of personal feeling that Wingfield was not 
recalled from his post. Wolsey saw that he had been no 
more foolish than most other Englishmen would have 
been in his place. 

Meanwhile a change had taken place in the affairs 
of Europe which turned the attention of France and 


England alike in a new direction. Ferdinand the 
Catholic died in January 1516, and the preponderance of 
France had so alarmed him that he laid aside his plan of 
dividing the power of the House of Austria "by instituting 
his second grandson, Ferdinand, King of Spain. After 
the battle of Marignano he changed his will in favour 
of his eldest grandson, the Archduke Charles, who now 
added the Spanish kingdoms to his possession of the 
Netherlands. The young prince had just emancipated 
himself from the tutelage of Maximilian, but was under 
the influence of ministers who pursued a purely Flemish 
policy, and longed to give peace to the Netherlands by 
an alliance with France. England was connected with 
Flanders by commercial interests, and long negotiations 
had been conducted with the Flemish Government for a 
close alliance. But Charles's advisers were won over by 
France, and Charles himself was attracted by the hope 
of a French marriage. His position was difficult, as he 
was poor and helpless; he could not even go to take 
possession of the Spanish Crowns without help from one 
side or the other. Had he been older and wiser he 
would have seen that it was safer to accept the gold of 
Henry VIII., from whose future projects he had nothing 
to fear, rather than try and secure a precarious peace for 
the Netherlands by an alliance with France. However, 
Charles turned a cold ear to the English ambassadors, 
and hi? ministers secretly brought about a treaty with 
France, which was signed at Noyon in August 1516. 

The Treaty of Noyon was a further rebuff to Wolsey, 
England was passed by in silence, and a tempting bait 
was laid to draw Maximilian also into the French 
alliance, and so leave England entirely without allies 


Maximilian had been for some time at war with Yenice 
about the possession of the towns of Brescia and Yerona. 
The Treaty of Noyon provided that the Yenetians should 
pay the Emperor 200,000 crowns and remain in posses- 
sion of the disputed territory. Maximilian used this offer 
to put himself up to auction ; he expressed his detesta- 
tion of the peace of Noyon, but pleaded that unless 
Henry came to his help he would be driven by 
poverty to accept the proffered terms. Henry an- 
swered by a proposal that Maximilian should earn the 
price he fixed upon his services : let him come into the 
Netherlands, and work the overthrow of the unworthy 
ministers who gave such evil advice to their sovereign. 
Maximilian stipulated for the allowance which he was to 
receive for the expenses of a journey to the Netherlands, 
for which he began to make preparations. He raised all 
possible doubts and difficulties, and received all the money 
he could extract on any pretext from Henry YIIL ; at 
last he secretly signed the Treaty of Noyon in December, 
and drew his payments from both parties so long as he 
could keep his game unsuspected. 

But Wolsey was not so much deceived as Maximilian 
thought, and showed no discomfiture when Maximilian's 
shiftiness at length came to light. If Maximilian would 
not be faithful it was well that his untrustworthiness 
should be openly shown, and Francis I, who was watching 
his manoeuvres, could not feel proud of his new ally. 
He knew what he had to expect from Maximilian when 
the 200,000 crowns were spent. The money that had 
been spent on Maximilian was not wasted if it gave 
him an encouragement to display his feebleness to the 


So Henry maintained a dignified attitude, and 
showed no resentment. He received Maximilian's excuses 
with cold politeness, and waited for Francis I. to dis- 
cover the futility of Ms new alliances. Maximilian was 
clearly of no account. Charles had gained all that he 
could gain from, his League with France towards quieting 
the Netherlands ; for his next step, a journey to Spain, 
he needed the help of England, and soon dropped his 
attitude of indifference. After thwarting England as 
much as he could, he ^ras driven to "beg for a loan to 
cover the expenses of Ms journey, and England showed 
no petty resentment for his past conduct. The loan was 
negotiated, Charles's ambassadors were honourably re- 
ceived, it was even proposed that he should visit 
Henry on his way. This honour Charles cautiously 
declined on the ground of ill health ; but all the other 
marks of Henry's goodwill were accepted with gratitude, 
and in September 1517 Charles set out on his voyage to 
Spain, where he found enough to employ his energies 
for some time. 

This conciliatory attitude of England was due to a 
perception that the time had come when simple oppo- 
sition to France was no longer useful. England had so 
far succeeded as to prevent the French ascendency from 
"being complete; she had stemmed the current, had 
shown Francis I. the extent of her -resources, and had 
displayed unexpected skill. Moreover, she had made 
it clear that neither she nor France could form a com- 
bination sufficiently powerful to enable the one to crush 
the other, and had given Francis I. a lesson as to the 
amount of fidelity he might expect from his allies. 
When it was clear to both sides that there was no hope 


for far -reaching schemes, it was natural for the two 
powers to draw together, and seek a reasonable redress 
for the grievances which immediately affected them. 

Chief amongst these on the French side was the pos- 
session of Tournai by the English, glorious, no doubt, 
as a trophy of English valour, but of very doubtful ad- 
vantage to England. Negotiations about its restoration 
were begun as early as March 1517, and were conducted 
with profound secrecy. Of course Charles hoped to get 
Tournai into his own hands, and did not wish it to be 
restored to France. It was necessary to keep him in 
ignorance of what was going on, and not till he had 
sailed to Spain were there any rumours of what was 

Wolsey and Henry VIII. deceived the ambassadors 
of Charles and of Venice by their repeated professions 
of hostility against France, and Charles's remonstrances 
were answered by equivocations, so that he had no oppor- 
tunity for interfering till the matter had been agreed 
upon as part of a close alliance between England and 
France. The negotiations for this purpose were long and 
intricate, and form the masterpiece of Wolsey's diplo- 
matic skill. They were made more difficult by the out- 
break in England of a pestilence, the sweating sickness, 
before which Henry fled from London and moved un- 
easily from place to place. "Wolsey was attacked by it 
in June so seriously that his life was despaired of; 
scarcely was he recovered when he suffered from a 
second attack, and soon after went on a pilgrimage to 
Walsingham to perform a vow and enjoy change of air. 
But with this exception, he stuck manfully to his work 
in London, where, beside his manifold duties in internal 


administration, he directed the course of the negotiations 
with France. 

In fact Wolsey alone was responsible for the change 
of policy indicated by the French alliance. He had 
thoroughly carried the king with him ; but he was well 
aware that his course was likely to he exceedingly un- 
popular, and that on him would fall the blame of any 
failure. Henry did not even inform his Council of his 
plans. He knew that they would all hare been opposed 
to such a sudden change of policy, which could only be 
justified in their eyes by its manifest advantage in the 
end. Wolsey was conscious that he must not only con- 
clude an alliance with France, but must show beyond 
dispute a clear gain to England from so doing. 

Wolsey's difficulties were somewhat lessened by the 
birth of an heir to the French Crown in February 1518. 
France could now offer, as a guarantee for her close 
alliance with England, a proposal of marriage between 
the Dauphin and Henry's only daughter Mary. Still 
the negotiations cautiously went on while Wolsey 
drove the hardest bargain that he could. They were 
not finished till September, when a numerous body of 
French nobles came on a splendid embassy to London. 
Never had such magnificence been seen in England be- 
fore as that with which Henry VIII. received his new 
allies. Even the French nobles admitted that it was 
beyond their power to describe. Wolsey entertained 
the company at a sumptuous supper in his house at 
Westminster, "the like of which," says the Venetian 
envoy, "was never given by Cleopatra or Caligula, the 
whole banqueting hall being decorated with huge vases 
of gold and silver." After the banquet a band of 


mummers, wearing visors on their faces, entered and 
danced. There were twelve ladies and twelve gentle- 
" men, attended by twelve torch-bearers ; all were clad 
alike "in fine green satin, all over covered with cloth 
of gold, undertied together with laces of gold." They 
danced for some time and then removed their masks, and 
the evening passed in mirth. Such were the festivities 
of the English Court, wMch Shakespeare has reproduced, 
accurately enough, in his play of Henry VIII. 

But these Court festivities were only preliminary to 
the public ceremonies whereby Wolsey impressed the 
imagination of the people. The proclamation of the 
treaty and the marriage of the Princess Mary by proxy 
were both the occasions of splendid ceremonies in 
St. Paul's Cathedral. The people were delighted by 
pageantry and good cheer; the opposition of old- 
fashioned politicians was overborne in the prevailing 
enthusiasm; and men spoke only of the triumph of a 
pacific policy which had achieved results such as warfare 
could not have won. Indeed, the advantages which 
England obtained were substantial. France bought 
back Tournai for 600,000 crowns, and entered into a 
close alliance with England, which cut it off from inter- 
ference in the affairs of Scotland, which was included in 
the peace so long as it abstained from hostilities. But 
more important than this was the fact that "Wolsey in- 
sisted on the alliance between Prance and England being 
made the basis of a universal peace. The Pope, the Em- 
peror, the King of Spain, were all invited to join, and 
all complied with the invitation. 

None of them, however, complied with goodwill, 
least of all Pope Leo X., whose claim to "be the official 


pacifier of Europe was rudely set aside by the audacious 
action of Wolsey. Leo hoped that the bestowal of a 
cardinal's hat had established a hold on Wolsey's grati- 
tude ; but he soon found that he was mistaken, and that 
his cunning was no match for Wolsey's force. No sooner 
had Wolsey obtained the cardinalate than he pressed 
for the further dignity of papal legate in England. Not 
unnaturally Leo refused to endow with such an office 
a minister already so powerful as to be almost inde- 
pendent; but Wolsey made him pay for his refusal. 
Leo wanted money, and the pressure of the Turk on 
Southern Europe lent a colour to his demand of clerical 
taxation for the purposes of a crusade. In 1517 he sent 
out legates to the chief kings of Christendom; but 
Henry refused to admit Cardinal Campeggio, saying that 
" it was not the rule of this realm to admit legates & 
latere" Then Wolsey intervened and suggested that 
Campeggio might come if he would exercise no ex- 
ceptional powers, and if his dignity were shared by 
himself. Leo was forced to yield, and Campeggio's 
arrival was made the occasion of stately ceremonies 
which redounded to Wolsey's glorification. Campeggio 
got little for the crusade, but served to grace the fes- 
tivities of the French alliance, and afterwards to convey 
the Pope's adhesion to the universal peace. Wolsey 
had taken matters out of the Pope's hand, and Leo 
was driven to follow his lead with what grace he could 
muster. Perhaps as he sighed over his discomfiture he 
consoled himself with the thought that the new peace 
would not last much longer than those previously made : 
if he did, he was right in his opinion. 



THE object of Wolsey's foreign policy had been attained 
by the universal peace of 1518. England had been set 
up as the mediator in the politics of Europe. , The old 
claims of the empire and the papacy had passed away 
in the conflict of national and dynastic interests, in which 
papacy and empire were alike involved. England, by 
virtue of its insular position, was practically outside the 
objects of immediate ambition which distracted its Con- 
tinental neighbours ; but England's commercial interests 
made her desirous of influence, and Henry VIII. was 
bent upon being an important personage. It was 
Wolsey's object to gratify the king at the least expense 
to the country, and so long as the king could be exalted 
by peaceful means, the good of England was certainly 
promoted at the same time. The position of England 
as the pacifier of Europe was one well qualified to 
develop a national consciousness of great duties to per- 
form ; and it may be doubted if a country is ever great 
unless it has a clear consciousness of some great mission. 
Wolsey's policy had been skilful, and the results 


which he had obtained were glorious ; hut it was diffi- 
cult to maintain the position which he had won. It was 
one thing to proclaim a peace ; it was another to contrive 
that peace should be kept. One important question 
was looming in the distance when Wolsey's peace was 
signed, the succession to the empire on Maximilian's 
death. Unfortunately this question came rapidly for- 
ward for decision, as Maximilian died suddenly on 
12th January 1519, and the politicians of Europe waited 
breathlessly to see who would be chosen as his successor. 
The election to the empire rested with the seven 
electors, the chief princes of Germany ; but if they had 
been minded on this occasion to exercise freely their right, 
it would have been difficult for them to do so. The empire 
had for a century been with the house of Austria, and Maxi- 
milian had schemed eagerly that it should pass to his 
grandson Charles. It is true that Charles was already 
King of Spain, Lord of the Netherlands, and King of 
Naples and Sicily, so that it seemed dangerous to increase 
still further his great dominions. But Charles urged his 
claim, and his great rival, Francis I. of France, entered 
the lists against him. Strange as it may seem that a 
French king should aspire to rule over G-ermany, Francis 
I. could urge that he was almost as closely connected 
with Germany as was Charles, whose interests were 
bound up with those of Spain and the Netherlands. In 
the face of these two competitors, it was hard for the 
electors to find a candidate of a humbler sort who would 
venture to draw upon himself the wrath of their dis- 
appointment. Moreover, the task of ruling Germany 
was not such as to attract a small prince. The Turks 
were threatening its borders, and a strong man was 


needed to deal with many pressing problems of its 
government. The electors, however, were scarcely guilty 
of any patriotic considerations ; they quietly put up their 
votes for auction between Francis and Charles, and 
deferred a choice as long as they could. 

Both competitors turned for help to their allies, the 
Pope and the King of England, who found themselves 
greatly perplexed. Leo X. did not wish to see French 
influence increased, as France was a dangerous neigh- 
bour in Italy ; nor did he wish to see the empire and 
the kingdom of Naples both held by the same man, for 
that was against the immemorial policy of the Papacy. 
So Leo intrigued and prevaricated to such an extent 
that it is almost impossible to determine what he was 
aiming at. He managed, however, to throw hindrances 
in Wolsey's path, though we cannot be sure that lie 
intended to do so. 

Wolsey's plan of action was clear, though it was not 
dignified. He wished to preserve England's mediating 
attitude and give offence to no one ; consequently, he 
secretly promised his help both to Charles and Francis, 
and tried to arrange that each should be ignorant of his 
promises to the other. All went well till Leo, in his 
diplomatic divagations, commissioned his legate to sug- 
gest to Henry VIIL that it might be possible, after all, 
to find some third candidate for the empire, and that he 
was ready to try and put off the election for that 
purpose, if Henry agreed. Henry seems to have 
considered this as a hint from the Pope to become a 
candidate himself. He remembered that Maximilian 
had offered to resign the empire in his favour, but he 
forgot the sufficient reasons which had led him to 


dismiss the proposal as fantastic and absurd. His 
vanity was rather tickled with the notion of rivalling 
Charles and Francis, and lie thought that if the Pope 
were on his side, his chances would he as good as theirs. 

"We can only guess at Wolsey's dismay when his 
master laid this project before him. Whatever Wolsey 
thought, he knew that it was useless to offer any opposi- 
tion. However much he might be able to influence the 
king's opinions in the making, he knew that he must- 
execute them when they were made. If Henry 
had made up his mind to become a candidate for the 
empire, a candidate he must be. All that could be done 
was to prevent his determination from being hopelessly 
disastrous. So Wolsey pointed out that great as were 
the advantages to be obtained by gaining the empire, 
there were dangers in being an unsuccessful candidate. 
It was necessary first to make sure of the Pope, and then 
to prosecute Henry's candidature by fair and honourable 
means. Francis was spending money lavishly to win 
supporters to his side ; and Charles was reluctantly com- 
pelled to follow his example lest he should be outbid. 
It would be unwise for Henry to squander his money 
and simply raise the market price of the votes. Let 
him make it clear to the greedy Germans that they 
would not see the colour of England's money till the 
English king had been really elected. 

So "Wolsey sent the most cautious instructions to his 
agent in Rome to see if the Pope would take the re- 
sponsibility of urging Henry to become a candidate; 
but Leo was too cautious, and affected not to under- 
stand the hint. Then in May, Pace, who was nowthe king's 
secretary, was sent to Germany to sound the electors 


with equal care. He was to approach the electors who 
were on Francis's side, as though Henry were in favour 
of Francis, and was to act similarly to those who were 
in favour of Charles; then he was to hint cautiously 
that it might be well to choose some one more closely 
connected with Germany, and if they showed any ac- 
quiescence, was to suggest that Henry was "of the 
German tongue," and then was to sing his praises. 
Probably both Pace and Wolsey knew that it was too 
late to do anything serious. Pace reported that the 
money of France and Spain was flowing on all sides, 
and was of opinion that the empire was "the dearest 
merchandise that ever was sold," and would prove " the 
worst that ever was bought to him that shall obtain it." 
Yet still he professed to have hopes, and even asked for 
money to enter the lists of corruption. But this was 
needless, as the election at last proceeded quickly. The 
Pope came round to the side of Charles as being the 
least of two evils, and Charles was elected on 28th June. 
Thus Wolsey succeeded in satisfying his master's 
demands without committing England to any breach 
with either of her allies/ Henry VIII. could scarcely be 
gratified at the part that he had played^ but Wolsey 
could convince him that he had tried his best, and that 
at any rate no harm had been done7- Though Henry's 
proceedings were known to Francis and Charles, 
there was nothing at which they could take offence. 
Henry had behaved with duplicity, but that was only to 
be expected in those days ; he had not pronounced him- 
self strongly against either. The ill-will that had long 
been simmering between^ Charles V. and Francis 1 
had risen to the surface, and the long rivalry between^ 


the two monarclis was now declared. Each, looked for 
allies, and the most important ally was England. Each 
had hopes of winning over the English king, and Wolsey 
wished to keep alive, without satisfying, the hopes of 
both, and so establish still more securely the power of 
England as holding the balance of the peace of Europe. 

Wolsey's conduct in this matter throws much light 
on his relations to the king, and the method by which 
he retained his influence and managed to carry out his 
own designs. He appreciated the truth that a statesman 
must lead while seeming to follow a truth which applies 
equally to all forms of government. Wolsey was re- 
sponsible to no one but the king, and so had a better 
opportunity than has a statesman who serves a demo- 
cracy to obtain permission to carry out a consecutive 
policy. But, on the other hand, he was more liable to 
be thwarted and interrupted in matters of detail by the 
interference of a superior. Wolsey's far-seeing policy 
was endangered by the king's vanity and obstinacy; 
he could not ask for time to justify his own wisdom, 
but was forced to obey. Yet even then he would not 
abandon his own position and set himself to minimise 
the inconvenience. It is impossible to know h<rvv often 
Wolsey was at other times obliged to give way to the 
king and adopt the second-best course ; but in this case 
we find clear indications of the process. When he was 
driven from his course, he contrived that the deviation 
should be as unimportant as possible. 

WoLey's task of maintaining peace by English media- 
tion was beset with difficulties now that the breach 
between Francis I and Charles Y. was clearly made. It 
was necessary for England to be friendly to both, and 


not to be drawn by its friendliness towards either to 
offend the other. In the matter of the imperial election 
English influence had been somewhat on the side of 
Charles, and Francis was now the one who needed 
propitiation. The treaty with France had provided for 
a personal interview between the two kings, and Francis 
was anxious that it should take" place at once. For 
this purpose he strove to win the good offices of 
Wolsey. He assured him that in case of a papal election 
he could command fourteen votes which should be given 
in his favour. Moreover, he conferred on him a signal 
mark of his confidence by nominating him his plenipo- 
tentiary for the arrangements about the forthcoming 
interview. By this all difficulties were removed, and 
Wolsey stood forward before the eyes of Europe as the 
accredited representative of the kings of England and 
France at the same time. It is no wonder that men 
marvelled at such an unheard-of position for an English 

But nothing that Francis had to give could turn 
Wolsey away from his own path. ISTo sooner did he 
know that the French interview was agreed upon than 
he suggested to Charles that it would be well for 
him also to have a meeting with the English king. The 
proposal was eagerly accepted, and Wolsey conducted 
the negotiations about both interviews side by side. 
Barely did two meetings cause such a flow of ink and 
raise so many knotty points. At last it was agreed that 
Charles should visit Henry in England in an informal 
way before the French interview took place. It was 
difficult to induce the punctilious Spaniards to give 
way to Wolsey's requirements. It was a hard thing foy 


one who bore the high-sounding title of Emperor to agree 
to visit a King of England on his own terms. But 
Wolsey was resolute that everything should be done in 
such a way as to give France the least cause of com- 
plaint. When the Spanish envoys objected to his 
arrangements or proposed alterations, he brought them 
to their bearings by saying, "Very well ; then do not do it 
and begone." They were made to feel their dependence 
on himself. The interview was of their seeking, and must 
be held on terms which he proposed, or not at all. This, 
no doubt, was felt to be very haughty conduct on 
Wolsey's part ; but he had set on foot the scheme of 
this double interview, by which Henry was to be 
glorified and England's mediatorial position assured. It 
was his business to see that Ms plan succeeded. So he 
turned a deaf ear to the offers of the Spanish ambassa- 
dors. He was not to be moved by the promise of 
ecclesiastical revenues in Spain. Even when the influence 
of Spain was proffered to secure his election to the 
Papacy, he coldly refused. 

It has been said that Wolsey was open to bribes, 
and his seemingly tortuous policy has been accounted 
for by the supposition that he inclined to the side which 
promised Mm most. This, however, is an entire mistake, 
Wolsey went his own way ; but at the same time he did 
not disregard his personal profit. { He was too great a 
man to be bribed ; but his greatness entailed magnifi- 
cence, and magnificence is expensive. v He regarded it as 
natural that sovereigns who threw work upon his 
shoulders should make some recognition of his labour^' 
This was the custom of the time ; and Wolsey was by no 
means singular in receiving gifts from foreign kinga 


The chief lords of Henry's Court received pensions from 
the King of France; and the lords of the French 
Court were similarly rewarded hy Henry. This was 
merely a complimentary custom, and was open and 
avowed. Wolsey received a pension from Francis I, 
and a further sum as compensation for the hishopric of 
Tournai, which he resigned when Tournai was returned 
to France. In like manner, Charles Y. rewarded him 
by a Spanish bishopric ; but Wolsey declined the office 
of bishop, and preferred to receive a fixed pension 
secured on the revenues of the see. This iniquitous 
arrangement was carried out with the Pope's consent; 
and such like arrangements were by no means rare. 
They were the natural result of the excessive wealth of 
the Church, which was diverted to the royal uses by a 
series of fictions, more or less barefaced, but all tending 
to the weakening of the ecclesiastical organisation. Still 
the fact remains that Wolsey thought no shame of 
receiving pensions from Francis and Charles alike ; but 
there was nothing secret nor extraordinary in this. 
Wolsey regarded it as only obvious that his statesman- 
ship should be rewarded by those for whom it was 
exercised; but the Emperor and the King of France 
never hoped that by these pensions they would attach 
Wolsey to their side. The promise by which they tried 
to win him was the promise of the Papacy ; and to this 
Wolsey turned a deaf ear. " He is seven times more 
powerful than the Pope," wrote the Venetian ambassador; 
and perhaps Wolsey himself at this time was of the 
sam opinion. 

Meanwhile Francis was annoyed when he heard of 
these dealings with Charles, and tried to counteract 


them by pressing for an early date of his meeting with 
Henry VIII It is amazing to find how large a part 
domestic events were made to play in these matters of 
high policy when occasion needed. Francis urged that 
he was very anxious for his queen to be present to 
welcome Katharine ; but she was expecting her confine- 
ment, and if the interview did not take place soon she 
would be unable to appear. Wolsey replied with, equal 
concern for family affairs, that the Emperor was anxious 
to visit Ms aunt, whom he had never seen, and Henry 
could not be so churlish as to refuse a visit from 
his wife's relative. Katharine, on her side, was over- 
joyed at this renewal of intimacy with the Spanish 
Court, to whose interests she was strongly attached, and 
tried to prevent the understanding with France, by 
declaring that she could not possibly have her dresses 
ready under three months. In her dislike of the French 
alliance Queen Katharine expressed the popular senti- 
ment. The people had long regarded France as the 
natural enemy of England, and were slow to give up 
their prejudices. The nobles grew more and more dis- 
contented with Wolsey's policy, which they did not care 
to understand. They only saw that their expectations 
of a return to power were utterly disappointed ; Wolsey, 
backed by officials such as Pace, was all-powerful, and 
they were disregarded. "Wolsey was working absolutely 
single-handed. It is a remarkable proof of his skill that 
he was able to draw the king to follow him unhesitat- 
ingly, at the sacrifice of his personal popularity, and in 
spite of the representations of those who were imntedi- 
ately around him. 

Moreover, Wolsey, in his capacity of representative 


of the Kings of England and France, had in his hands 
the entire management of all concerning the coming 
interview. He fixed the place with due regard to the 
honour of England, almost on English soil. The 
English king was not to lodge outside his own territory 
of Calais ; the spot appointed for the meeting was on 
the meadows between G-uisnes and Ardres, on the border- 
land of the two kingdoms. "Wolsey had to decide which of 
the English nobles and gentry were to attend the king, 
and had to assign to each his office and dignity. The 
king's retinue amounted to nearly 4000, and the queen's 
was somewhat over 1000. A very slight knowledge of 
human nature will serve to show how many people 
Wolsey must necessarily have offended. If the ranks 
of his enemies were large before, they must have in- 
creased enormously when his arrangements were made 

Still Wolsey was not daunted, and however much 
every one, from Francis and Charles, felt aggrieved by his 
proceedings, all had to obey ; and everything that took 
place was due to ^olsey's will alone. The interview 
with Charles was simple. On 26th May 1520 he landed 
at Dover, and was met by Wolsey ; next morning Henry 
rode to meet him and escort him to Canterbury, which 
was his headquarters; on the 29th Charles rode to 
Sandwich, where he embarked for Flanders. What 
subjects the two monarchs discussed we can only dimly 
guess. Each promised to help the other if attacked by 
France, and probably Henry undertook to bring about a 
joint-conference of the three sovereigns to discuss their 
common interests. The importance of the meeting lay 
in its display of friendliness; in the warning which it gave 


to France that she was not to count upon the exclusive 
possession of England's goodwill. 

No sooner was the Emperor gone than Henry em- 
barked for Calais, and arrived at G-uisnes on 4th June. 
We need not describe again the " Field of the Cloth of 
Gold," to furnish which the art of the Renaissance was 
used to deck medieval pageantry. It is enough to 
say that stately palaces of wood clothed the barren 
stretch of flat meadows, and that every ornament which 
man's imagination could devise was employed to lend 
splendour to the scene. No doubt it was barbaric, waste- 
ful, and foolish ; but men in those days loved the sight 
of magnificence, and the display was as much for the 
enjoyment of countless spectators as for the self-glorifies 
tion of those who were the main actors. In those days 
the solace of a poor man's life was the occasional enjoy- 
ment of a stately spectacle; and after all, splendour 
gives more pleasure to the lookers-on than to the 
personages of the show. 

Most splendid among the glittering throng was the 
figure of Wolsey, who had to support the dignity of 
representative of both kings, and spared no pains to do 
it to the full But while the jousts went on, Wolsey 
was busy with diplomacy ; there were many points re- 
lating to a good understanding between France and 
England, which he wished to arrange, the projected 
marriage of the Dauphin with Mary of England, the 
payment due from France to England on several heads, 
the relations between France and Scotland and the like. 
More important than these was the reconciliation ol 
Charles with Francis, which Wolsey pressed to the 
utmost of his persuasiveness, without, however, reaching 


any definite conclusion. Charles was hovering on the 
Flemish border, ready at a hint from Wolsey to join 
the conference ; but Wolsey could find no good reasons 
for giving it, and when the festivities came to an end on 
24th June, it might be doubted if much substantial good 
had resulted from the interview. No doubt the French 
and English fraternised, and swore friendship over their 
cups ; but tournaments were not the happiest means of 
allaying feelings of rivalry, and the protestations of 
friendship were little more than lip-deep. Yet Wolsey 
cannot be blamed for being over-sanguine. It was at 
least a worthy end that he had before him, the removal 
of long-standing hostility, the settlement of old disputes, 
the union of two neighbouring nations by the assertion 
of common aims and common interests. However we 
may condemn the methods which Wolsey used, at least 
we must admit that his end was in accordance with the 
most enlightened views of modern statesmanship. 

When Henry had taken leave of Francis, he 
waited in Calais for the coming of Charles, whose visit 
to England was understood to be merely preliminary 
to further negotiations. Again Henry held the im- 
portant position ; he went to .meet Charles at Grave- 
lines, where he stayed for a night, and then escorted 
Charles as his guest to Calais, where he stayed from 
10th to 14th July. The result of the conference was a 
formal treaty of alliance between the two sovereigns, 
which Charles proposed to confirm by betrothing 
himself to Henry's daughter Mary. As she was a 
child of four years old, such an undertaking did not bind 
him to much ; but Mary was already betrothed to the 
Dauphin, while Charles was also already betrothed to 


Charlotte of France, so that the proposal aimed at a double 
breach of existing relationships and treaties. Henry 
listened to this scheme, which opened up the way 
for further negotiation, and the two monarchs parted 
with protestations of friendship. It was now the turn 
of Francis to hang about the place where Henry was 
holding conference with his rival, in hopes that he 
too might be invited to their discussions. He had to 
content Mmself with hearing that Henry rode a steed 
which he had presented to him, and that his face did 
not look so contented and cheerful as when he was on 
the meadows of Guisnes. In due time he received from 
Henry an account of what had passed between himself 
and the Emperor. Henry informed him of Charles's 
marriage projects, and of his proposal for an alliance 
against France, both of which Henry falsely said that he 
had rejected with holy horror. 

Truly the records of diplomacy are dreary, and the 
results of all this display, this ingenious scheming, and 
this deceit seem ludicrously small. The upshot, how- 
ever, was that "Wolsey's ideas still remained dominant, and 
that the position which he had marked out for England 
was still maintained. He had been compelled to change 
the form of his policy, but its essence was unchanged. 
European affairs could no longer be directed by a 
universal peace under the guarantee of England; so 
Wolsey substituted for it a system of separate alliances 
with England, by which England exercised a mediating 
influence on the policy of the two monarchs, whose 
rivalry threatened a breach of European peace. He 
informed Francis of the schemes of Charles, that he might 
show him how much depended on English mediation, 


He so conducted matters that Charles and Francis 
should both be aware that England could make advan- 
tageous terms with either, that her interests did not 
tend to one side rather than the other, that both should 
be willing to secure her goodwill, and should shrink 
from taking any step which would throw her on the 
side of his adversary. It was a result worth achieving, 
though the position was precarious, and required con- 
stant watchfulness to maintain. 



THE most significant point in the mediatorial policy of 
Wolsey was the fact that it threw the Papacy entirely 
into the shade. "What Wolsey was doing was the 
traditional business of the Pope, who could not openly 
gainsay a policy which he was bound to profess coincided 
with his own. So Leo X. followed Wolsey's lead of keep- 
ing on good terms with France and the Emperor alike ; 
but Leo had no real wish for peace. He wished to 
gain something in Italy for the Medici, and nothing was 
to be gained while France and Spain suspended hostili- 
ties. Only in time of war could he hope to carry out 
his own plans by balancing one combatant against the 
other. Charles's ambassador was not wrong in saying 
that Leo hated Wolsey more than any other man ; and 
Leo tried to upset his plans by drawing nearer to the 
imperial side. 

It required very little to provoke war between Francis 
and Charles; either would begin the attack if the 
conditions were a little more favourable, or if he could 
secure an ally. But Charles was weak owing to the 


want of unity of interest in his unwieldy dominions. 
Germany was disturbed by the opinions 'of Luther; 
Spain was disturbed by a revolt of the cities against 
long-standing misgovernment. Charles was not ready 
for war, nor was Francis much better provided. His 
coffers were empty through his lavish expenditure, and 
his Government was not popular. Keally, though both 
wished for war, neither was prepared to be the aggressor ; 
both wanted the vantage of seeming to fight in self- 

It was obvious that Charles had made a high bid 
for the friendship of England when he offered himself 
as the husband of the Princess Mary. Wolsey had taken 
care that Francis was informed of this offer, which 
necessarily led to a long negotiation with the imperial 
Court. Eeally Charles's marriage projects were 
rather complicated ; he was betrothed to Charlotte of 
France ; he had made an offer for Mary of England j but 
he wished to marry Isabella of Portugal for no loftier 
reason than the superior attractions of her dowry. His 
proposal for Mary of England was prompted by nothing 
save the desire to have Henry as his ally against 
France ; if he could manage by fair promises to induce 
Henry to go to war his purpose would be achieved, 
and he could still go in quest of the Portuguese dower. 
So when Tunstal, the Master of the Bolls, went as English 
envoy to discuss the matter, Charles's Council raised all 
sorts of difficulties. Let the English king join a league 
with the Pope and the Emperor against France j then the 
Pope would grant his dispensation, which was necessary, 
owing to the relationship between Charles and Mary. 
Tunstal was bidden by Wolsey to refuse such conditions. 


England would not move until the marriage had been 
concluded, and would not join in any league with the 
Pope till his dispensation was in Henry's hand. The 
separate alliance of England and the Emperor must be put 
beyond doubt to England's satisfaction before anything 
else could be considered. Wolsey commissioned Tunstal 
to adopt a lofty tone, " It would be great folly," he says, 
" for this young prince, not being more surely settled in 
his dominions, and so ill-provided with treasure and 
good councillors, the Pope also being so brittle and 
variable, to be led into war for the pleasure of his 
ministers." Truly Wolsey thought he had taken the 
measure of those with whom he dealt, and spoke with 
sufficient plainness when occasion needed. But Charles's 
chancellor, Gattinara, a Piedmontese, who was rising 
into power, was as obstinate as Wolsey, and rejected 
the English proposals with equal scorn. " Your 
master/ 7 he said to Tunstal, " would have the Emperor 
break with France, but would keep himself free ; he 
behaves like a man with two horses, one of which he 
rides, and leads the other by the hand." It was clear 
that nothing could be done, and Wolsey with some 
delight recalled Tunstal from his embassy. The closer 
alliance with the Emperor was at an end for the present ; 
he had shown again that England would only forego her 
mediating position on her own terms. 

At the same time he dealt an equal measure of rebufi 
to France. Before the conference at Guisnes Francis 
had done some work towards rebuilding the ruined walls 
of Ardres on the French frontier. After the conference 
the work was continued till England resented it as an 
unfriendly act. Francis was obliged to give way, and 


order the building to be stopped. Neither Francis noi 
Charles were allowed to presume on the complacency oi 
England, nor use their alliance with her to further their 
own purposes. 

The general aspect of affairs was so dubious that it 
was necessary for England to be prepared for any emer- 
gency, and first of all Scotland must be secured as far as 
possible. Since the fall of James IY. at Flodden Field, 
Scotland had been internally unquiet. Queen Margaret 
gave birth to a son a few months after her husband's 
death, and, to secure her position, took the unwise step 
of marrying the Earl of Angus. The enemies of Angus 
and the national party in Scotland joined together to 
demand that the Kegency should be placed in firmer 
hands, and they summoned from France the Duke of 
Albany, a son of the second son of James III, who had 
been born in exile, and, was French in all the traditions 
of his education. When Albany came to Scotland as 
Kegent, Queen Margaret and Angus were so assailed 
that Margaret had to flee to England for refuge in 1515, 
leaving her son in Albany's care. She stayed in England 
till the middle of 1517, when she was allowed to return 
to Scotland on condition that she took no part in public 
affairs. About the same time Albany returned to France, 
somewhat weary of his Scottish charge. By his alliance 
with Francis Henry contrived that Albany should 
not return to Scotland; but he could not contrive to 
give his sister Margaret the political wisdom which was 
needed to draw England and Scotland nearer together. 
Margaret quarrelled with her husband Angus, and only 
added another element of discord to those which pre- 
viously existed. The safest way for England to keep 


Scotland helpless was to encourage forays on the Border. 
The Warden of the Western Marches, Lord Dacre of 
Naworth, was admirably adapted to work with Wolsey 
for this purpose. Without breaking the formal peace 
which existed between the two nations, he developed 
a savage and systematic warfare, waged in the shape 
of Border raids, which was purposely meant to de- 
vastate the Scottish frontier, so as to prevent a serious 
invasion from the Scottish side. Still Henry YIIL was 
most desirous to keep Scotland separate from France ; 
but the truce with Scotland expired in November 1520. 
Wolsey would gladly have turned the truce into a per- 
petual peace; but Scotland still clung to its French 
alliance, and all that Wolsey could achieve was a pro- 
longation of the truce till 1522. He did so, however, 
with the air of one who would have preferred war ; and 
Francis I. was induced to urge the Scots to sue for peace, 
and accept as a favour what England was only too glad 
to grant. 

At the same time an event occurred in England which 
showed in an unmistakable way the determination of 
Henry to go his own way and allow no man to question 
it In April 1520 the Duke of Buckingham, one of 
the wealthiest of the English nobles, was imprisoned 
on an accusation of high treason. In May he was 
brought to trial before his peers, was found guilty, and 
was executed. The charges against him were trivial if 
true the witnesses were members of his household who 
bore him a grudge. But the king heard their testimony 
in his Council, and committed the duke to the Tower. 
None of the nobles of England dared differ from their 
imperious master. IS. the king thought fit that Bucking- 


ham should die, they would not run the risk of putting 
any obstacle in the way of the royal will. Trials for 
treason under Henry YIIL were mere formal acts of regis- 
tration of a decision already formed. 

The Duke of Buckingham, no doubt, was a weak and 
foolish man, and may have done and said many foolish 
things. He was in some sense justified in regarding 
himself as the nearest heir to the English throne, if 
Henry left no children to succeed him. Henry had 
been married for many years, and as yet there was 
no surviving child save the Princess Mary. It was 
unwise to talk about the succession to the Crown after 
Henry's death ; it was criminal to disturb the minds of 
Englishmen who had only so lately won the blessings 
of internal peace. If the Duke of Buckingham had 
really done so, he would not be undeserving of punish- 
ment ; but the evidence against him was slight, and its 
source was suspicious. No doubt Buckingham, was 
incautious, and made himself a mouthpiece of the dis- 
content felt by the nobles at the French alliance and their 
own exclusion from affairs. No doubt he denounced 
Wolsey, who sent him a message that he might say 
what he liked against himself, but warned him to 
beware what he said against the king. It does not seem 
that Wolsey took any active part in the proceedings 
against the Duke, but he did not do anything to save 
him. The matter was the king's matter, and as such it 
was regarded by all. The nobles, who probably agreed 
with Buckingham's opinions, were unanimous in pro- 
nouncing his guilt -, and the Duke of Norfolk, with tears 
streaming down his cheeks, condemned him to his doom. 
The mass of the people were indifferent to his fate, and 


were willing that the king should be sole judge of the 
precautions necessary for his safety, with which the 
internal peace and outward glory of England was en- 
tirely identified. Charles and Francis stood aghast at 
Henry's strong measures, and were surprised that he 
could do things in such a high-handed manner with 
impunity. If Henry intended to let the statesmen 
of Europe know that he was not to be diverted from 
his course by fear of causing disorders at home he 
thoroughly succeeded. The death of Buckingham was 
a warning that those who crossed the king's path and 
hoped to thwart his plans by petulant opposition were 
playing a game which would only end in their own ruin. 
Free from any fear of opposition at home, Wolsey 
could now give his attention to his difficult task abroad 
Charles V. had been crowned at Aachen, and talked of 
an expedition to Borne to receive the imperial crown. 
Francis I. was preparing for a campaign to assert the 
French claims on Milan. Meanwhile he wished to 
hamper Charles without openly breaking the peace. 
He stirred up a band of discontented barons to attack 
Luxembourg, and aided the claimant to the crown of 
Navarre to enter his inheritance. War seemed now 
inevitable ; but Wolsey remained true to his principles, 
and urged upon both kings that they should submit 
their differences to the mediation of England. Charles 
was busied with the revolt of the Spanish towns, and 
was not unwilling to gain time. After a show of reluct- 
ance he submitted to the English proposals ; but Francis, 
rejoicing in the prospect of success in Luxembourg 
and Navarre, refused on the ground that Charles was 
not in earnest. Still Francis was afraid of incurring 


England's hostility, and quailed before Wolsey's threat 
that if France refused mediation, England would be 
driven to side with the Emperor. In June 1521 he 
reluctantly assented to a conference to be held at Calais, 
over which "Wolsey should preside, and decide between 
the pleas urged by representatives of the two hostile 

If Wolsey triumphed at having reached his goal, his 
triumph was of short duration. He might display 
himself as a mediator seeking to establish peace, but he 
knew that peace was well-nigh impossible. While the 
negotiations were in progress for the conference which 
was to resolve differences, events were tending to make 
war inevitable. When Wolsey began to broach his 
project, Francis was desirous of war and Charles waa 
anxious to defer it ; but Charles met with some suc- 
cess in obtaining promises of help from G-ermany in 
the Diet of Worms, and when that was over, he heard 
welcome news which reached him gradually from all 
sides. The revolt of the Spanish towns was dying away; 
the aggressors in Luxembourg had been repulsed; the 
troops of Spain had won signal successes in Navarre. 
His embarrassments were certainly disappearing on all 
sides. More than this, Pope Leo X., after long wavering, 
made up his mind to take a definite course. No doubt 
he was sorely vexed to find that the position which he 
hankered after was occupied by England; and if he 
were to step back into the politics of Europe, he could 
not defer a decision much longer. He had wavered 
between an alliance with France and Venice on the one 
side, or with the Emperor on the other. The movement 
of Luther in Germany had been one of the questions foi 


settlement in the Diet of Worms, and Luther had been 
silenced for a time. Leo awoke in some degree to 
the gravity of the situation, and saw the advantage of 
making common cause with Charles, whose help in 
Germany was needful. Accordingly he made a secret 
treaty with the Emperor for mutual defence, and was 
anxious to draw England to the same side. The 
religious question was beginning to be of import- 
ance, and Francis I. was regarded as a favourer of 
heretics, whereas Henry VIII. was strictly orthodox, 
was busy in suppressing Lutheran opinions at home, 
and was preparing Ms book which should confute Luther 
for ever. 

Another circumstance also greatly affected the atti- 
tude of Charles, the death of his minister Chi&vres, who 
had been his tutor in his youth, and continued to 
exercise great influence over his actions. Charles 
was cold, reserved, and ill -adapted to make friends. 
It was natural that one whom he had trusted from 
his boyhood should sway his policy w at the first. 
Chi&vres was a Burgundian, whose life had been spent 
in saving Burgundy from French aggression, and the 
continuance of this watchful care was his chief object till 
the last. His first thought was for Burgundy, and to 
protect that he wished for peace with France and opposed 
an adventurous policy. On his death in May 1521 
Charles V. entered on a new course of action. He felt 
himself for the first time his own master, and took his 
responsibilities upon himself. He seems to have ad- 
mitted to himself that the advice of Chievres had not 
always been wise, and he never allowed another minister 
to gain the influence Chievres had possessed. He contented 


himself with officials who might each represent some 
part of his dominions, and whose advice he used in turns, 
but none of whom could claim to direct his policy as a 

Chief of these officials was a Savoyard, Mercurino 
della Gattinara, whose diplomatic skill was now of great 
service to the Emperor. Gattinara was a man devoted 
to his master's interests, and equal to Wolsey in resolute- 
ness and pertinacity. Hitherto Wolsey had had the 
strongest will amongst the statesmen of Europe, and had 
reaped all the advantages of his strength. In Gattinara 
he met with an opponent who was in many ways his 
match. It is true that Gattinara had not Wolsey 's genius, 
and was not capable of Wolsey's far-reaching schemes ; 
but he had a keen eye to the interests of the moment, 
and could neither be baffled by finesse nor overborne by 
menaces. His was the hand that first checked Wolsey's 
victorious career. 

So it was that through a combination of causes the 
prospects of peace suddenly darkened just as "Wolsey 
was preparing to stand forward as the mediator of 
Europe. Doubtless he hoped, when first he put forward 
the project of a conference, that it might be the means 
of restoring his original design of 1518, a European 
peace under the guarantee of England. Since that had 
broken down he had been striving to maintain Eng- 
land's influence by separate alliances ; he hoped in the 
conference to use this position in the interests of peace. 
But first of all the alliance with the Emperor must be 
made closer, and the Emperor showed signs of demanding 
that this closer alliance should be purchased by a breach 
with France. If war was inevitable, England had 


most to gain by an alliance with Charles, to whom its 
friendship could offer substantial advantages, as England, 
in case of war, could secure to Charles the means oi 
communicating between the Netherlands and Spain, 
which would be cut off if France were hostile and the 
Channel were barred by English ships. Moreover the 
prospect of a marriage between Charles and the Princess 
Mary was naturally gratifying to Henry ; while English 
industry would suffer from any breach of trading 
relations with the Netherlands, and the notion of war 
with France was still popular with the English. 

So Wolsey started for Calais at the beginning of 
August with the intention of strengthening England's 
alliance with the Emperor, that thereby England's in- 
fluence might be more powerful. Charles on the 
other hand was resolved on war j he did not wish for 
peace by England's mediation, but he wished to draw 
England definitely into the league between himself and 
the Pope against France. Wolsey knew that much 
depended on his own cleverness, and nerved himself for 
the greatest caution, as Francis was beginning to be 
suspicious of the preparations of Charles, and the 
attitude of affairs was not promising for a pacific 

This "became obvious at the first interview of "Wolsey 
with the imperial envoys, foremost amongst whom was 
Gattinara. They were commissioned to treat (about the 
marriage of Charles with the Princess Mary, and about 
a secret undertaking for war against France ; but their 
instructions contained nothing tending to peace. The 
French envoys were more pacific, as war was not popular 
in France. 


On 7th August the conference was opened under 
Wolsey's presidency; but G-attlnara did nothing save 
dwell upon the grievances of his master against France \ 
he maintained that France had been the aggressor in 
breaking the existing treaty; he had no powers to 
negotiate peace or even a truce, but demanded England's 
help, which had been promised to the party first aggrieved. 
The French retorted in the same strain, but it was clear 
that they were not averse to peace, and were willing 
to trust to Wolsey's mediation. Wolsey saw that he 
could make little out of Gattinara. He intended to visit 
the Emperor, who had come to Bruges for the purpose, 
as soon as he had settled with the imperial envoys the 
preliminaries of an alliance ; now he saw that the 
only hope of continuing the conference lay in winning 
from Charles better terms than the stubborn Gattinara 
would concede. So he begged the French envoys to 
remain in Calais while he visited the Emperor and 
arranged with him personally for a truce. As the 
French were desirous of peace, they consented. 

On 16th August "Wolsey entered Bruges in royal 
state, with a retinue of 1000 horsemen. Charles came 
to the city gate to meet him, and received him almost 
as an equal. Wolsey did not dismount from his 
horse, but received Charles's embrace seated. He was 
given rooms in Charles's palace, and the next day at 
church Charles sat by Wolsey's side and shared the same 
kneeling stool with him. Their private conferences 
dealt solely with the accord between England and the 
Emperor. Wolsey saw that it was useless to urge 
directly the cause of peace, and trusted to use for this 
purpose the advantages which his alliance would giva 


He succeeded, however, in considerably modifying the 
terms which had "been first proposed. He diminished 
the amount of dowry which Mary was to receive on her 
marriage, and put off her voyage to the Emperor till she 
should reach the age of twelve, instead of seven, which 
was first demanded. Similarly he put off the period 
when England should declare war against France till 
the spring of 1523, though he agreed that if .war 
was being waged between Francis and Charles in 
November, England should send some help to Charles. 
Thus he still preserved England's freedom of action, and 
deferred a rupture with France. Every one thought that 
many things might happen in the next few months, and 
that England was pledged to little. Further, Wolsey 
guarded the pecuniary interests of Henry by insist- 
ing that if France ceased to pay its instalments for the 
purchase of Tournai, the Emperor should make . good 
the loss. He also stipulated that the treaty should be 
kept a profound secret, so that the proceedings of the 
conference should still go on. 

Wolsey was impressed by Charles, and gave a true 
description of his character to Henry : " For Ms age 
he is very wise and understanding his affairs, right 
cold and temperate in speech, with assured manner, 
couching his words right well and to good purpose when 
he doth speak" We do not know what was Charles's 
private opinion of Wolsey. He can scarcely have 
relished Wolsey's lofty manner, for Wolsey bore himself 
with all the dignity of a representative of his king. 
Thus, the King of Denmark, Charles's brother-in-law, was 
in Bruges, and sought an interview with Wolsey, who, 
answered that it was unbecoming for him to receive in 


his chamber any king to whom he was not commis- 
sioned ; if the King of Denmark wished to speak with 
him, let him meet him, as though by accident, in the 
garden of the palace. 

When the provisions of the treaty had been drafted, 
Wolsey set out for Calais on 26th Ailgust, and was 
honourably escorted out of Bruges by the Emperor him- 
self. On his return the business of the conference began, 
and was dragged on through three weary months. The 
imperial envoys naturally saw nothing to be gained by 
the conference except keeping open the quarrel with 
France till November, when Henry was bound to 
send help to the Emperor if peace were not made. 
Wolsey remained true to his two principles : care for 
English interests, and a desire for peace. He secured 
protection for the fishery of the Channel in case of war, 
and he cautiously strove to lead up both parties to se.e their 
advantage in making a truce if they could not agree 
upon a peace. It was inevitable that these endeavours 
should bring on Wolsey the suspicions of both. The 
French guessed something of the secret treaty from the 
warlike appearance which England began to assume, and 
cried out that they were being deceived. The imperial 
envoys could not understand how one who had just 
signed a treaty with their master, could throw obstacles 
in their way and pursue a mediating policy of his own. 
EealLy both sides were only engaged in gaming time, 
and their attention was more fixed upon events in the 
field than on any serious project of agreement. 

When in the middle of September the French arms 
won some successes, Gattinara showed himself inclined to 
negotiate for a truce. The conference, which hitherfcc 


had been merely illusory, suddenly became real, and 
Wolsey's wisdom in bargaining that England should 
not declare war against France till the spring of 1523 
became apparent. He could urge on Gattinara that it 
would be wise to agree to a truce till that period was 
reached ; then all would be straightforward. So Wol- 
sey adjourned the public sittings of the conference, and 
negotiated privately with the two parties. The French 
saw in a year's truce only a means of allowing the Em- 
peror to prepare for war, and demanded a substantial 
truce for ten years. Wolsey used all his skill to 
bring about an agreement, and induced G-attinara to 
accept a truce for eighteen months, and the French 
to reduce their demands to four years. But Charles 
raised a new difficulty, and claimed that all conquests 
made in the war should be given up. The only con- 
quest was Fontarabia, on the border of Navarre, which 
was still occupied by the French. Francis not un- 
naturally declined to part with it solely to obtain a 
brief truce, as Charles had no equivalent to restore. 
Wolsey used every argument to induce the Emperor 
to withdraw his claim; but he was obstinate, and 
the conference came to an end. It is true that Wolsey 
tried to keep up appearances by concluding a truce for 
a month, that the Emperor might go to Spain and con- 
sult his subjects about the surrender of Fontarabia. 

So Wolsey departed from Calais on 25th November, 
disappointed and worn out. As he wrote himself, " I 
have been so sore tempested in mind by the untowardness 
of the chancellors and orators on every side, putting so 
many difficulties and obstacles to condescend to any 
reasonable conditions of truce and abstinence of war, 


that night nor day I could hare no quietness nor rest." 
There is no doubt that "Wolsey wrote what he felt. He 
had laboured hard for peace, and had failed. If he 
hoped that the labours of the conference might still be 
continued by his diplomacy in England, that hope was 
destroyed before he reached London. On 1st December 
the imperial troops captured Tournai, which they had 
been for some time besieging, and news came from Italy 
that Milan also had fallen before the forces of the 
Emperor and the Pope. Charles had seemed to Wolsey 
unreasonable in his obstinacy. He had refused a truce 
which he had every motive of prudence for welcoming ; 
and now events proved that he was justified. Not 
only had Francis been foiled in his attempts to em- 
barrass his rival, but success had followed the first steps 
which Charles had taken to retaliate. The time for 
diplomacy was past, and the quarrel must be decided by 
the sword. 

So Wolsey saw his great designs overthrown. He 
was a peace minister because he knew that England 
had nothing to gain from war. He had striven to keep 
the peace of Europe by. means of England's mediation, 
and his efforts had been so far successful as to give 
England the first place in the counsels of Europe. But 
Wolsey hoped more from diplomacy than diplomacy 
could do. Advice and influence can do something to 
check the outbreak of war when war is not very seri- 
ously designed ; but in proportion as great interests are 
concerned, attempts at mediation are useless unless they 
are backed by force. England was not prepared for 
war, and had no troops by whom she could pretend to 
enforce her counsels. When the two rival powers began 


to be in earnest, they admitted England's mediation 
only as a means of involving her in their quarrel 
Wolsey was only the first of a long series of English 
ministers who have met with the same disappointment 
from the same reason. England in Wolsey's days had 
the same sort of interest in the affairs of the Continent 
as she has had ever since. Wolsey first taught her to 
develop that interest by pacific counsels, and so long as 
that has been possible, England has been powerful. 
But when a crisis comes England has ever been slow to 
recognise its inevitableness ; and her habit of hoping 
against hope for peace has placed her in an undignified 
attitude for a time, has drawn upon her reproaches for 
duplicity, and has involved her in war against her will. 
This was now the net result of Wolsey's endeavours, 
a result which he clearly perceived. His efforts 
of mediation at Calais had been entirely his own, 
and he could confide to no one his regret and his 
disappointment, Henry was resolved on war when 
Wolsey first set forth, and if "Wolsey had succeeded in 
making a truce, the credit would have been entirely 
his own. He allowed Henry to think that the con- 
ference at Calais was merely a pretext to gain time for 
military preparations ; if a truce had been made he 
would have put it down to the force of circumstances ; 
as his efforts for a truce had failed, he could take credit 
that he had done all in his power to establish the king's 
reputation throughout Christendom, and had fixed the 
blame on those who would not follow his advice. It is 
a mark of Wolsey's conspicuous skill that he never for- 
got his actual position, and never was so entirely ab- 
sorbed in his own plans as not to leave himself a ready 


means for retreat. His schemes had failed ; but he 
could still take credit for having furthered other ends 
which were contrary to his own. Henry was well con- 
tented with the results of Wolsey's mission, and showed 
his satisfaction in the customary way of increasing 
Wolsey's revenues at the expense of the Church. The 
death was announced of the Abbot of St. Albans, and 
the king, in answer to Wolsey's request, ordered the 
monks to take "Wolsey for their abbot, saying, " My lord 
cardinal has sustained many charges in this his voyage, 
and hath expended 10,000," So kings were served, 
and so they recompensed their servants. 



THE failure of Wolsey's plans was due to the diplomacy 
of Gattinara and to the obstinacy of Charles V., who 
showed at the end of the negotiations at Calais an un- 
expected readiness to appreciate his obligations towards 
his dominions as a whole, by refusing to abandon 
Fontarabia lest thereby he should irritate Ms Spanish 
subjects. It was this capacity for large consideration 
that gave Charles V. his power in the future ; his motives 
were hard to discover, but they always rested on a view 
of his entire obligations, and were dictated by reasons 
known only to himself. Even Wolsey did not understand 
the Emperor's motives, which seemed to him entirely 
foolish. He allowed himself to take up a haughty posi- 
tion, which deeply offended Charles, who exclaimed 
angrily, "This cardinal will do everything his own 
way, and treats me as though I were a prisoner." 
Charles treasured up his resentment, of which Wolsey 
was entirely unconscious, and was determined not to 
allow so masterful a spirit to become more powerful. 
He soon had an opportunity of acting on this deter- 


mination, as the unexpected death of Pope Leo X. on 
1st December naturally awakened hopes In Wolsey's 
breast. It was impossible that the foremost statesman 
in Europe should not have had the legitimate aspiration 
of reaching the highest office to which he could attain. 
But though Wolsey was ready when the opportunity 
came to press his own claims with vigour, it cannot be 
said with fairness that Ms previous policy had been in 
any way directed to that end, or that he had swerved 
in the least from his own path to further his chances for 
the papal office. Indeed he had no reason for so doing, 
as Leo was only forty-six years old when he died, and 
his death was entirely unforeseen. Moreover, we know 
that when the Spanish envoys offered Wolsey the Em- 
peror's help towards the Papacy in 1520, Wolsey refused 
the offer ; since then Charles at Bruges had repeated 
the offer without being asked, Now that a vacancy 
had arisen, it was natural for Wolsey to attach some 
weight to this promise, and Henry expressed himself 
warmly in favour of Wolsey's election, and urged his 
imperial ally to work by all means for that end. He 
sent to Rome his favourite secretary Pace to further it 
by pressing representations to the cardinals, 

It does not seem that Wolsey was very sanguine in 
his expectations of being elected. Leo X. had died at a 
moment of great importance for Charles Y. ; in fact his 
death had been brought about by the imprudence which 
he showed in manifesting his delight at the success of the 
imperial arms against Milan, and Ms prospect of the over- 
throw of Prance. It was necessary for Charles that a Pope 
should be elected who would hold to Leo's policy, and 
would continue the alliance with England. The man 


who held in his hand the threads of Leo X.'s numerous 
intrigues was his cousin, Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, and 
Wolsey admitted the advantages to be gained by Ms 
election. Wolsey at once declared that he submitted 
his candidature to the decision of Henry VIII. and the 
Emperor; if they thought that he was the best person to 
promote their interests he would not shrink from the 
labour ; but he agreed that if his candidature were not 
likely to be acceptable to the cardinals, the two monarchs 
should unite in favour of Cardinal Medici. Charles's 
ambassador wrote him that it would be well to act 
carefully, as Wolsey was watching to see how much faith 
he could put in the Emperor's protestations of good- 

So Charles was prepared, and acted with ambiguous 
caution. He put off communicating with Henry as long 
as he could ; he regretted that he was in the Netherlands 
instead of Germany, whence he could have made his 
influence felt in Home; he secretly ordered his am- 
bassador in Eome to press for the election of Cardinal 
Medici, but gave Mm no definite instructions about any 
one else ; finally he wrote a warm letter in favour of 
Wolsey, which he either never sent at all, or sent too 
late to be of any use, but which served as aD enclosure 
to satisfy Henry Till. Wolsey was not deceived by 
this, and knew how papal elections might be influenced. 
He told the Spanish ambassador that, if his master were 
in earnest, he should order his troops to advance against 
Home, and should command the cardinals to elect his 
nominee; he offered to provide 100,000 ducats to cover 
the -expenses of such action. When it came to the point 
Wolsey was a very practical politician, and was under 


no illusions about the fair pretences of free choice which 
surrounded a papal election. He treated it as ;a mattei 
to be settled by pressure from outside, according to the 
will of the strongest. There is something revolting!;? 
cynical in this proposal. No doubt many men thought 
like Wolsey, but no one else would have ,had the bohi 
ness to speak out. Wolsey's outspokenness vt&a of nc 
avail at the time, but it bore fruits afterwards. He 
taught Henry VIII. to conceive the possibility of a shorl 
way of dealing with refractory popes. Hie confirmed 
his willing pupil in the belief that all things may be 
achieved by the resolute will of one who rises abpve 
prejudice and faces the world as it is. When he felLlw 
must have recognised that it was himself who trained the 
arm which smote him. 

In spite of Wolsey's advice Charles did not allow 
Spanish influence to be unduly felt in the proceedings of 
the conclave. Barely had the cardinals been more un- 
decided, and when they went into the conclave on 
27th December, it was said that every one of them was 
a candidate for the Papacy. The first point was to 
exclude Cardinal Medici, and it could be plausibly urged 
that it was dangerous to elect two successive popes from 
the same family. Medici's opponents succeeded in 
making his election impossible, but could not agree upon 
a candidate of their own; while Medici tried to bring 
about the election of some one who would be favourable 
to the Emperor. At last in weariness the cardinals 
turned their thoughts to some one who was not present. 
Wolsey was proposed, and received seven votes; but 
Medici was waiting his time, and put forward Car- 
dinal Adrian of Utrecht, who had been Charles's tutor, 


and was then governing Spain in his master's name. 
Both parties agreed on him, chiefly because he was 
personally unknown to any of the cardinals, had 
given no offence, was well advanced in years, and was 
reckoned to be of a quiet disposition, so that every one 
had hopes of guiding his counsels. It was clear that the 
imperialists were strongest in the conclave, and of all 
the imperialist candidates Adrian was the least offensive 
to the French. One thing is quite clear, that Charles V. 
had not the least intention of helping Wolsey. 

"Wolsey probably knew this well enough, and was not 
disappointed. He bore the Emperor no ill-will for his 
lukewarmness ; indeed he had no ground, for expecting 
anything else. Wolsey's aim was not the same as that 
of Charles, and Charles had had sufficient opportunity 
to discover the difference between them. Probably 
Wolsey saw that the alliance between England and the 
Emperor would not be of long duration, as there was no 
real identity of interests. Henry VIII was dazzled foi 
a moment with the prospect of asserting the English 
claims on France ; he was glad to find himself at one 
with his queen, who was overjoyed at the prospect of a 
family alliance with her own beloved land of Spain. 
The English nobles rejoiced at an opportunity to display 
their prowess, and hoped in time of war to recover the 
influence and position of which they had been deprived 
by an upstart priest. The sentiment of hostility to 
France was still strong amongst the English people, and 
the allurements of a spirited foreign policy were many. 
But as a matter of fact England was ill prepared for 
war ; and though the people might throw up their caps 
at first, they would not long consent to pay for a war 


which brought them no profits. And the profits were 
not likely to be great, for Charles had no wish to see 
England's importance increased. He desired only English 
help to achieve his own purposes, and was no more 
trustworthy as an ally than had been his grandfather 

However, war had been agreed upon, and all that 
Wolsey could do was to try and put off its declaration 
until he had secured sufficient assurance that English 
money was not to be spent to no purpose. Charles V., 
who was in sore straits for money, asked for a loan 
from England, to which Wolsey answered that England 
could not declare war till the loan was repaid. He 
insisted that no declaration of war should be made till the 
Emperor had fulfilled his promise to pay a visit to Eng- 
land, a promise which Charles's want of money rendered 
him unable for some time to keep. 

But however much Wolsey might try to put off the 
declaration of war, it was inevitable. Francis could 
not be expected, for all Wolsey's fine promises, to con- 
tinue his payments for Tournai to so doubtful an 
ally as Henry, nor could he resist from crippling 
England as far as he could. The Duke of Albany went 
back to Scotland ; and in the beginning of May Francis 
ordered the seizure of goods lying at Bordeaux for ship- 
ment to England. This led to retaliation on the part of 
England, and war was declared against France on 
28th May 1522. 

This coincided with the visit of Charles V. to London, 
where he was magnificently entertained for a month, 
while the treaty of alliance was being finally brought 
into shape by Wolsey and Gattinara. Wolsey contented 


himself with providing that the alliance did not go 
further than had been agreed at Bruges, and that Eng- 
land's interests were secured by an undertaking from 
Charles that he would pay the loss which Henry VIII. 
sustained by the withdrawal of the French instalments 
for Tournai. When the treaty was signed it was Wolsey 
who, as papal legate, submitted both princes to ecclesi- 
astical censures in case of a breach of its provisions. 
Moreover, Charles granted Wolsey a pension of 9000 
crowns in compensation for his loss from Tournai, and 
renewed his empty promise of raising him to the 

It was one thing to declare war and another to carry 
it on with good effect. England, in spite of all the 
delays which Wolsey had contrived to interpose, was 
still unprepared. It was late in the autumn before 
forces could be put in the field, and the troops of 
Charles V. were too few for a joint undertaking of any 
importance. The allies contented themselves with in- 
vading Picardy, where they committed useless atrocities, 
burning houses, devastating the country, and working 
all the mischief that they could. They did not advance 
into the centre of France, and no army met them in the 
field ; in the middle of October they retired ingloriously. 
It is hard to discover the purpose of such an expedition. 
The damage done was not enough to weaken France 
materially, and such a display of barbarity was ill suited 
to win the French people to favour Henry VIII. 's claim 
to be their rightful lord. If Francis I. had been un- 
popular before, he was now raised to the position of a 
national leader whose help was necessary for the pro- 
tection of his subjects. 


The futile result of this expedition caused mutual 
recriminations between the new allies. The imperialists 
complained that the English had come too late; the 
English answered that they had not been properly 
supported. There were no signs of mutual confidence ; 
and the two ministers, Wolsey and Gattinara, were 
avowed enemies, and did not conceal their hostility. 
The alliance with the Emperor did not show signs of 
prospering from the beginning. 

The proceedings of the Earl of Surrey and the direc- 
tion of the campaign were not Wolsey's concern. He 
was employed nearer home, in keeping a watchful eye 
on Scotland, which threatened to be a hindrance to 
Henry YIII.'s great undertakings abroad. The return 
of the Duke of Albany in December 1521 was a direct 
threat of war. Albany was nominally regent^ but had 
found his office troublesome, and had preferred to spend 
the last five years in the gaieties of the French Court 
rather than among the rugged nobles of Scotland. They 
were years when France was at peace with England and 
had little interest in Scottish affairs ; so Queen Margaret 
might quarrel with her husband at leisure, while the 
Scottish lords distributed themselves between the two 
parties as suited them best. But when war between 
France and England was approaching, the Duke of 
Albany was sent back by Francis I. to his post as agent 
for France in Scottish affairs. Queen Margaret welcomed 
him with joy, hoping that he would further her plan of 
gaining a divorce from the Earl of Angus. Before this 
union of forces the English party in Scotland was power- 
less. It was in vain that Henry VIII. tried by menaces to 
influence either his sister or the Scottish lords. As soon 


as the English forces sailed for France Albany prepared 
to invade England. 

It was lucky for Henry VIII. that he was well served 
on the Borders by Lord Dacre of Naworth, who managed 
to show the Scots the measure of Albany's incapacity. 
Dacre began negotiations with Albany, to save time ; and 
when, in September, the Scottish forces passed the 
Border, Albany was willing to make a truce. As a 
matter of fact, England was totally unprepared to repel 
an invasion, and Albany might have dictated his own 
terms. But Dacre, in Carlisle, which he could not de- 
fend, maintained his courage, and showed no signs of 
fear. He managed to blind Albany to the real state of 
affairs, and kept him from approaching to the crumbling 
walls of Carlisle. He advanced to the Debatable Land 
to meet him, and " with a high voice " demanded the 
reason of his coming ; and the parley thus begun ended 
in the conclusion of a month's truce. Wolsey was over- 
joyed at this result, but yet found it necessary to inter- 
cede with the king for Daere's pardon, as he had no 
authority to make terms with the enemy ; and Dacre 
was not only forgiven, but thanked. This futile end to 
an expedition for which 80,000 soldiers had been raised 
ruined Albany's influence, and he again retired to France 
at the end of October. 

"Wolsey at once saw the risk which England had run. 
A successful invasion on the part of the Scots would 
have been a severe blow to England's military reputa- 
tion; and Wolsey determined to be secure on the 
Scottish side for the future. The Earl of Surrey, on his 
return from his expedition in France, was put in charge 
of the defences of the Border, and everything was done 


to humour Queen Margaret, and convince her that she 
had more to gain from the favour of her brother than 
from the help of the Duke of Albany. Moreover, Wolsey, 
already convinced of the uselessness of the war against 
France, was still ready to gain from it all that he could, 
and strove to use the threat of danger from Scotland as 
a means of withdrawing from war and gaining a signal 
triumph. Francis I., unable to defend himself, tried to 
separate his enemies, and turned to Charles V. with 
offers of a truce. When this was refused, he repeated 
his proposals to England, and Wolsey saw his oppor- 
tunity. He represented to Charles that so long as 
England was menaced by Scotland she could send little 
effective help abroad; if Scotland were crushed she 
would be free again. He suggested that the Emperor 
had little to win by military enterprises undertaken with 
such slight preparation as the last campaign ; would he 
not make truce for a year, not comprehending the realm 
of Scotland 1 ? 

The suggestion was almost too palpable. G-attinara 
answered that Henry wished to use his forces for his 
private advantage, and neglected the common interest 
of the alliance. Again bitter complaints were made of 
Wolsey's lukewarmness. Again the two allies jealously 
watched each other lest either should gain an advantage 
by making a separate alliance with France. And while 
they were thus engaged the common enemy of Christen- 
dom was advancing, and Ehodes fell before the Turkish 
arms. It was in vain that Adrian VI. lamented and 
wept ; in vain he implored for succours. Fair promises 
alone were given him. Europe was too much intent 
on the duel between Francis and Charles to think 


seriously of anything else. The entreaties of the Pope 
were only regarded by all parties as a good means of 
enabling them to throw a decent veil over any measure 
which their own interests might prompt. They might 
declare that it was taken for the sake of the holy war ; 
they might claim that they had acted from a desire to 
fulfil the Pope's behest. 

So things stood in the beginning of 1523, when an 
unexpected event revived the military spirit of Henry 
VIII, and brought the two half-hearted allies once more 
closely together, by the prospect which it afforded of 
striking a deadly blow at France. The chief of the 
nobles of France, the sole survivor of the great feudatories, 
the Constable of Bourbon, was most unwisely affronted 
by Francis I., at a time when he needed to rally all hia 
subjects round him. Not only was Bourbon affronted, 
but also a lawsuit was instituted against him, which 
threatened to deprive him of the greater part of hia 
possessions. Bourbon, who could bring into the field 
6000 men, did not find his patriotism strong enough to 
endure this wrong. He opened up secret negotiations 
with Charles, who disclosed the matter to Henry. 
Henry's ambition was at once fired. He saw Francis I, 
hopelessly weakened by a defection of the chief nobles, 
incapable of withstanding an attack upon the interior of 
his land, so that the English troops might conquer the 
old provinces which England still claimed, and victory 
might place upon his head the crown of France. 

Wolsey was not misled by this fantastic prospect, but 
as a campaign was imminent, took all the precautions 
he could that it should be as little costly as possible to 
England, and that Charles should bear his full share of 


the expense. "He demanded, moreover, that Bourbon 
should acknowledge Henry VIII. as the rightful King of 
France a demand which was by no means acceptable to 
Charles. He sent an envoy of his own to confer with 
Bourbon, but his envoy was delayed on the way, so that 
the agreement was framed in the imperial interests alone, 
and the demands of Henry were little heeded. The 
agreement was that Bourbon should receive the hand of 
one of the Emperor's sisters, and should receive a subsidy 
of 200,000 crowns to be paid equally by Henry and 
Charles; the question of the recognition of Henry 
as rightful King of France was to be left to the 
decision of the Emperor. 

The plan of the campaign was quickly settled. 
Charles, with 20,000 men, was to advance into Guienne ; 
Henry, with 15,000 English, supported by 6000 Nether- 
landers, was to advance through Picardy ; 10,000 
Germans were to advance through Burgundy; and 
Bourbon was to head a body of dissatisfied nobles of 
France. It was an excellent plan on paper ; and, indeed, 
the position of France seemed hopeless enough. Francis 
I. had squandered his people's money, and was exceed- 
ingly unpopular ; Wolsey's diplomacy had helped to win 
over the Swiss to the imperial alliance; and the inde- 
fatigable secretary Pace had been sent to Venice to 
detach the republic from its connexion with France. It 
was believed that Wolsey was jealous of Pace's influence 
with Henry VIII., and contrived to keep him employed 
on embassies which removed him from the Court. At 
all events, he certainly kept him busily employed till his 
health gave way under the excessive pressure. To lend 
greater weight to Pace's arguments, Wolsey descended 


to an act of overbearing insolence. Some Venetian 
galleys trading with Flanders put in at Plymouth during 
a storm; they were laid under an embargo, and were 
detained on many flimsy pretexts. It was in vain that 
the Venetian ambassador remonstrated ; Wolsey always 
had a plausible answer. Probably he wished to show 
Venice that its trading interests required* the friend- 
ship of England. At all events the galleys were not 
released till Venice was on the point of joining the 
imperial alliance. Even then Wolsey had the meanness 
to carry off a couple of guns from each vessel, and Venice 
had to make a present of them to the English king with 
as much grace as the circumstances allowed. This little 
incident certainly shows Wolsey's conduct at its worst, 
and confirms the impression of contemporaries, that he 
had to some degree the insolence of an upstart, and 
sometimes overrode the weak in a way to leave behind 
a bitter feeling of resentment. 

However, Venice joined the Emperor, and Pope 
Adrian VI., who had pursued hitherto a policy of 
pacification, was at last overborne by the pressure of 
England and the Emperor, so that he entered into a 
defensive league against France. Thus France was 
entirely isolated. Distrusted at home and unbefriended 
abroad, she seemed to be a prey to her enemies; 
and Henry's hopes rose so high that he gleefully 
looked forward to being recognised as "governor of 
France/' and that " they should by this means make a 
way for him as King Eichard did for his father." 
Wiser men shook their heads at the king's infatuation. 
"I pray God," wrote More to Wolsey, "if it be good 
for his Grace and for this realm that then it may prove 


so ; and else in the stead thereof I pray Grod send his 
grace an honourable and profitable peace." 

The spirit that breathes through this prayer is not a 
martial spirit, and no doubt More's feelings represented 
those of Wolsey, who, though carried away by the 
king's military zeal, had little hopes of any great 
success, and such hopes as he had were rapidly de- 
stroyed. The campaign did not begin till the end of 
September; the contingent from the Netherlands was 
late in appearing and was ill supplied with food. Till the 
last moment Wolsey urged, as the first object of the 
campaign, the siege of Boulogne, which, if successful, 
would have given England a second stronghold on the 
French coast ; but Wolsey was overruled, and an expedi- 
tion into the interior of France was preferred. It was 
a repetition of the raid made in the last year, and was 
equally futile. The army advanced to Montdidier, and 
expected tidings of its confederate; but nothing was 
to be heard of Bourbon; his lanzknechts began to 
devastate France and then disbanded. The army of 
Charles V. contented itself with taking Fontarabia, and 
did not co-operate with the English forces. After the 
capture of Montdidier the troops, who were attacked 
by sickness, and had difficulty in finding provisions, 
withdrew to the coast ; and the Duke of Suffolk brought 
back his costly army without having obtained anything 
of service to England. This expedition, which was to 
do so much, was a total failure there was positively 
nothing to be shown in return for all the money 

Again the wisdom of Wolsey's policy was fully justi- 
fied. He was right in thinking that England had 



neither troops nor generals who were sufficient for an 
expedition on the Continent, where there was nothing 
tangible to be gained. So long as England was a 
neutral and mediating power she could pursue her own 
interests ; but her threats were more efficacious than her 
performances. She could not conquer unaided, and her 
allies had no intention of allowing her to win more 
than empty glory. Even this had been denied in, the 
last campaigns. England had incurred debts which 
her people could ill afford to pay, and had only lowered 
her reputation by a display of military incompetence. 
Moreover, her expedition against France involved her 
in the usual difficulties on the side of Scotland. Again 
there was a devastating war along the Border; again 
the Duke of Albany was sent from France and raised 
an army for the invasion of England. But this time 
Wolsey had taken his precautions, and the Earl of 
Surrey was ready to march against him. When in 
November Albany crossed the Tweed and besieged the 
Castle of Wark, Surrey took the field, and again Albany 
showed his incapacity as a leader. He retired before 
Surrey's advance, and wished to retire to France, 
but was prevented by the Scottish lords. Again the 
Border raids went on with their merciless slaughter 
and plunder, amidst which was developed the sternness 
and severity which still mark the character of the 
northern folk. 

Still, though the Scots might be defeated in the 
field, their defeat and suffering only served to strengthen 
the spirit of national independence. The subjugation 
of Scotland to England was hindered, not helped, by the 
alliance with the Emperor, which only drew Scotland 


nearer to France, and kept alive the old feeling of 
hostility. It was hard to see what England had to gain 
from the imperial alliance, and events soon proved that 
Charles Y. pursued his own interests without much 
thought of the wishes of Henry VIII. 

On 14th September died Pope Adrian VI, a weary 
and disappointed man. Again there was a prospect of 
Wolsey's election to the papacy; again it might be 
seen how much Charles Y. would do for his English 
ally. Wolsey had little hope of his good offices, and 
was his own negotiator in the matter. He was not 
sanguine about his prospects of success, as he knew 
that Cardinal Medici was powerful in Borne ; and the 
disasters of the pontificate of Adrian YI. led the 
cardinals to wish for a return to the old policy of Leo 
X., of which Medici held the threads. So two letters 
were sent to the English representatives in Eome, one 
in behalf of Wolsey, the other in behalf of Medici. If 
things were going for Medici, Wolsey was not to be 
pressed ; only in case of a disagreement was Wolsey to 
be put forward, and then no effort was to be spared; 
money was to be of no object, as Henry would make 
good any promises made on his behalf to secure Wolsey's 

The conclave was protracted ; it sat from 1st Octo- 
ber to 17th November, and there was ample oppor- 
tunity for Charles to have made his influence felt in 
Wolsey's behalf. He professed to Henry that he was 
doing so. He wrote a letter recommending Wolsey to 
his envoy in Rome, and then gave orders that the 
courier who carried the letter should be detained on the 
way. Really his influence was being used for Medici, 


and though a strong party in the conclave opposed 
Medici's election, it does not appear that Wolsey was 
ever put forward as a competitor. The cardinals would 
hear nothing of a foreigner, and the stubbornness of 
Medici's party was at length rewarded by his election. 
There is no trace that Wolsey was keenly disappointed 
at this result. In announcing it to Henry VIII. , he wrote, 
"For my part, as I take God to record, I am more 
joyous thereof than if it had fortuned upon my person, 
knowing his excellent qualities most meet for the same, 
and how great and sure a friend your Grace and the 
Emperor be like to have of him, and I so good a 

Few popes came to their office amid greater expec- 
tations, and few more entirely disappointed them than 
did Guilio de* Medici Clement VII., whose election 
Charles, Henry, and "Wolsey united in greeting with 
joy, suffered in a brief space entire humiliation at the 
hands of Charles, caused the downfall of Wolsey, and 
drove Henry to sever the bond between the English 
Church and the Holy See. It is impossible not to 
think how different would have been the course of 
events if Wolsey had presided over the destinies of the 



THE events of the year 1523 had practically made an 
end of the imperial alliance. Henry VIII. was not in a 
position to go to war again, and his confidence in 
Charles V.'s good intentions towards him was dispelled. 
Charles and Francis had had enough of war, and both 
of them secretly desired peace, but neither would make 
the first move towards it, Wolsey watched their move- 
ments keenly, and strove that English interests should 
not be entirely sacrificed in the pacification which seemed 
imminent He strove to induce Charles to allow pro- 
posals of peace to proceed from England, which should 
arbitrate on the differences between him and Francis. 
He urged that in any negotiations which Charles him- 
self undertook he was bound to consider how Henry 
could be recompensed for his losses. Moreover, he 
secretly opened up negotiations of his own with the 
French Court, and used the imperial alliance as a means 
to heighten England's value to France* 

The more Wojsay watched events the more he 
became convinced that the best thing was to make a 


separate peace with Trance, yet in such a way as to 
avoid an open breach with the Emperor. There were 
other reasons besides the failure of military expeditions, 
and the distrust in any good result from their continu- 
ance, which impelled Wolsey to a pacific policy. He 
knew only too well that war was impossible, and that 
the country could not bear the continued drain on its 
resources. If Henry YII had developed the royal power 
by a parsimony which enabled him to be free from 
parliamentary control, Henry VIII. had dazzled his 
people by the splendour of royalty, and had displayed his 
magnificence to such an extent that Englishmen were 
beginning to doubt if they could afford much longer 
to be so important, or rather if England's importance in 
Continental affairs were worth all the money that it 
cost. Of late years the weight of taxation had become 
oppressive, and the expenses of the last campaign were 
difficult to meet. 

There was no difference between the national revenue 
and the royal revenue in "Wolsey's days. The king took 
all the money he could get, and spent it as he thought 
good ; if he went to war he expected his people to pay 
for it. In an ordinary way the king was well provided 
for by his feudal dues and the proceeds of customs, 
tonnage and poundage, and the tax on wool, wool-fells, 
and leather. When extraordinary expenses were in- 
curred Parliament was summoned, and granted taxes to 
the king. Their vote was reckoned on an old assess- 
ment of tenths and fifteenths of the value of chattels 
possessed by the baronage and the commons ; and when 
Parliament made this grant the clergy in their convoca- 
tion granted a tenth of clerical incomes. The value of 


a tenth and fifteenth was 30,000 ; of a clerical tenth 
10,000 ; so that the usual grant in case of an emergency 
amounted to 40,000 from the whole realm. For his 
expedition of 1513 Henry obtained a vote of two tenths 
and fifteenths, besides a subsidy of a graduated income 
and property tax which was estimated to produce 
160,000, and this had to be supplemented by a further 
grant of tenths and fifteenths in 1515. 

It was in 1515 that Wolsey became Chancellor, and 
with tjiat office assumed the entire responsibility for 
all affairs of state. He managed to introduce some 
order into the finances, and during the years of pacific 
diplomacy things went tolerably well. But the French 
expeditions were costly, and in April 1523 Parliament 
had to be summoned to pay the king's debts. The war 
against France was popular, and men were willing to 

So on 15th April Henry VIII. opened Parliament, 
and Tunstal, Bishop of London, delivered the usual 
oration in praise of the king and grief over the evils of 
the time. The Commons departed, and elected as their 
Speaker Sir Thomas More, who had already abandoned 
the quiet paths of literature for the stormy sea of 
politics. The king's assent was given in the usual 
manner to his appointment, and the session was ad- 
journed. The Commons doubtless began to take financial 
matters under their consideration, but it was thought 
desirable that they should have a definite statement of 
the national needs. On 29th April Wolsey went to the 
House, and after urging the importance of the interests 
at stake in the war, proposed a subsidy of 800,000, to 
be raised according to an old method, by a tax of four 


shillings in the pound on all goods and lands. Next 
day there was much debate on this proposal ; it was 
urged that the sudden withdrawal of so large an amount 
of ready money would seriously affect the currency, and 
was indeed almost impossible. A committee was ap- 
pointed to represent to Wolsey that this was the sense 
of the House, and beg him to induce the king to 
moderate his demands. "Wolsey answered that he would 
rather have his tongue pulled out with red-hot pincers 
than carry such a message to the king. 

The Commons in a melancholy mood renewed their 
debate till Wolsey entered the House and desired to 
reason with those who opposed his demands. On this 
Sir Thomas More, as Speaker, defended the privilege of 
the House by saying, "That it was the order of that 
House to hear and not to reason save among them- 
selves." "Whereupon Wolsey was obliged to content 
himself with answering such objections as had come to 
his ear. He argued, it would seem with vigour, that the 
country was much richer than they thought, and he 
told them some unpleasant truths, which came with ill 
grace from himself, about the prevalence of luxury. 
After his departure the debate continued till the House 
agreed to grant two shillings in the pound on all incomes 
of 20 a year and upwards ; one shilling on all between 
20 and 2 ; and fourpence on all incomes under 2 ; 
this payment to be extended over two years. This was 
increased by a county member, who said, "Let us 
gentlemen of 50 a year and upwards give the king 
of our lands a shilling in the pound, to be paid in 
two years." The borough members stood aloof, and 
allowed the landholders to tax themselves an extra 


shilling in the pound if they chose to do so. This 
was voted on 21st May, and Parliament was prorogued 
till 10th June. Meanwhile popular feeling was greatly 
moved by rumours of an unprecedented tax, and what 
was really done was grossly exaggerated on all sides. 
As the members left the House an angry crowd greeted 
them with jeers. ""We hear say that you will grant 
four shillings in the pound. Do so, and go home, we ad- 
vise you." Eeally the members had done the best they 
could, and worse things were in store for them. For 
when the session was resumed the knights of the shire 
showed some resentment that they had been allowed to 
outdo the burgesses in liberality. They proposed that 
as they had agreed to pay a shilling in the pound on 
land assessed over 50 in the third year, so a like pay- 
ment should be made in the fourth year on all goods 
over the value of 50. There was a stormy debate on 
this motion; but Sir Thomas More at length made 
peace, and it was passed. Thus Wolsey, on the whole, 
had contrived to obtain something resembling his 
original proposal, but the payments were spread over a 
period of four years. After this Wolsey, at the prorog- 
ation of Parliament, could afford to thank the Com- 
mons on the king's behalf, and assure them that "his 
Grace would in such wise employ their loving contri- 
bution as should be for the defence of his realm and 
of his subjects, and the persecution and pressing of his 

Yet, however "Wolsey might rejoice in his success, he 
knew that he had received a serious warning, which he 
was bound to lay to heart. He had Been faithful to the 
king, and had done his best to carry out his views. 


The war with France was none of his advising, and he 
had no hopes of any advantage from it ; yet he was willing 
to take all the "blame of measures which inwardly he 
disapproved. He stood forward and assumed the un- 
popularity of taxation, whose necessity he deplored. 
Henry spent the nation's money at his pleasure, and 
Wolsey undertook the ungrateful task of squeezing 
supplies from a reluctant Parliament, while the king 
sat a benevolent spectator in the background. Henry 
took all the glory, and left "Wolsey to do all the 
unpleasant work. Wolsey stood between the national 
temper and the king ; he felt that he could not stand 
under the odium of accomplishing many more such recon- 
ciliations. England had reached the limit of its aspira- 
tions after national glory. For the future Wolsey must 
maintain the king's honour without appealing to the 
national pocket. 

There was no prospect of obtaining further supplies 
from Parliament, and the best way to pay the expenses 
of a futile war was by making a lucrative peace. Wolsey 
tried to induce Francis I. to renew his financial agree- 
ment with Henry VIII, which the war had broken off ; 
and to bring pressure to bear upon him for this pur- 
pose, was willing to continue with Charles V. negotiations 
for a fresh undertaking. 

So in June the unwearied Pace was sent to Bourbon's 
camp to promise England's help on terms which Wolsey 
knew were sure to be refused. England would again 
join in a campaign against France in the north, provided 
Bourbon, by an invasion of Provence, succeeded in raising 
a rebellion against Francis L, and would take an oath of 
allegiance to the English king as lord of France. Bour- 


bon sorely needed money, and did all he could to win over 
Pace. He secretly took an oath of fidelity, not of allegi- 
ance; and Pace was impressed with admiration of his genius 
and believed in his chances of success. Wolsey was 
coldly cautious towards Pace's enthusiasm, and the result 
was a breach between them. Pace openly blamed Wolsey, 
as Wingfield had done before, and pressed for money 
and an armed demonstration. Wolsey soberly rebuked 
his lack of judgment by setting before him a well-con- 
sidered survey of the political chances. His caution proved 
to be justified, as Bourbon's invasion of Provence was a 
failure. Wolsey gained all that he needed by his pre- 
tence of helping Bourbon; he induced the French 
Court to undertake negotiations seriously by means of 
secret envoys who were sent to London. 

Still Wolsey did not hide from himself the diffi- 
culties in the way of an alliance with France which 
would satisfy Henry VIII or bring substantial advan- 
tage to the country. However, on one point he managed 
to obtain an immediate advantage. He always kept 
his eye on Scotland, and now used the first signs of re- 
turning friendliness on the part of France to further 
his scheme of restoring English influence in that 
country. In June the Duke of Albany was recalled to 
[Prance, and Wolsey set to work to win back Queen 
Margaret to her brother's cause. He seems to have 
despaired of blandishments, and contrived a way to 
have a more powerful weapon. Margaret's husband, 
the Earl of Angus, had been sent by Albany to France, 
where he was carefully guarded. On the first signs 
of renewed friendliness between England and France a 
hint from Wolsey procured him an opportunity of 


escaping to England. With Angus at his disposal 
Wolsey urged Margaret to be reconciled to her 
husband, and terrified her by the prospect of alternately 
restoring him to Scotland. By playing cleverly on her 
personal feelings, Wolsey led her by degrees to accept 
his own plan for freeing Scotland from Albany and 
French interference. He urged that the young king was 
now old enough to rule for himself, and promised Mar- 
garet help to secure her supremacy in his council. At 
the same time he won over the Scottish lords by the 
prospect of a marriage between James and Mary of Eng- 
land, who was still Henry VIII.'s heir. In August 
James V. was set up as king, and the Scottish Parlia- 
ment approved of the English marriage. Again Wolsey 
won a signal triumph, and accomplished by diplomacy 
what the sword had been unable to achieve. 

We need not follow the complicated diplomacy of the 
year 1524, which was transferred to Italy, whither Francis 
I. had pursued Bourbon and was engaged in the siege 
of Pavia. It is enough to say that Wolsey pursued a 
cautious course : if Francis won the day in Italy he was 
ready to treat with him liberally : if the imperial arms 
prevailed, then he could sell England's alliance more 
dearly. But this cautious attitude was displeasing 
to Charles, whose ambassador in London, De Praet, 
complained without ceasing of the growing coldness of 
Henry and Wolsey. Wolsey kept a sharp watch on 
De Praet, and resented his keen-sightedness; finally, 
in February 1525, De Praet's despatches were inter- 
cepted, and he was called before the Council, when 
Wolsey charged him with untruth. De Praet answered 
by complaining that his privileges as an ambassador had 


been violated. He was ordered to confine himself to his 
own house till the king had written to the Emperor 
about his conduct. 

This was indeed an unheard-of treatment for the am- 
bassador of an ally, and we can scarcely attribute it 
merely to personal spite on the part of so skilled a 
statesman as Wolsey. Perhaps it was a deliberate plan 
to cause a personal breach between Henry and the 
Emperor. No doubt Henry's own feelings were towards 
Charles rather than Erancis, and it seems probable that 
Wolsey wished to show his master that Charles was only 
trying to make use of his friendship for his own purposes. 
The despatches of Charles's envoy were opened and their 
contents made known to Henry for some time before 
Wolsey took any open action. He acted when he saw 
his master sufficiently irritated, and he probably sug- 
gested that the best way to give Charles a lesson was 
by an attack upon his ambassador. This proposal 
agreed with the high-handed manner of action which 
Henry loved to adopt. It gave him a chance of 
asserting his own conception of his dignity, and he 
challenged Charles to say if he identified himself with 
his ambassador's sentiments. 

Under any circumstances it was an audacious step, and 
as things turned out it was an unfortunate one. Within 
a few days the news reached England that Francis 
had been attacked at Pavia by the imperial forces, had 
been entirely routed, and was a prisoner in the hands 
of Charles. Though Wolsey was prepared for some success 
of the imperial arms, he was taken aback at the decisive- 
ness of the stroke. His time for widening the breach 
between Charles and Henry had not been well chosen. 


However, Charles ;, saw that lie could not pursue his 
victory without money, and to obtain .money, he must 
adopt an appearance of moderation. So he professed in 
Italy willingness to forget the past, and he avoided a 
quarrel with England. He treated the insult to his 
amhassador as the result of a personal misunder- 
standing. Henry complained of De Praet's unfriendly 
bearing; Charles assured him that no offence was 
intended. Both parties saved their dignity; De Praet 
was recalled, and another ambassador was sent in his 
stead. Wolsey saw that he had been precipitate, and 
hastened to withdraw his false step ; Henry lent 
him his countenance, but can scarcely have relished 
doing so. Wolsey knew that his difficulties were in- 
creased. The victory of Charles again drew Henry to 
his side and revived his projects of conquest at the 
expense of France, now left helpless by its king's cap- 
tivity. As the defection of Bourbon had formerly 
awakened Henry's hopes, so now did the captivity 
of Francis. Again "Wolsey's pacific plans were shattered ; 
again he was driven to undertake the preparations for a 
war of which his judgment disapproved. 

Indeed Wolsey knew that war was absolutely impos- 
sible for want of money ; but it was useless to say so to 
the king. He was bound to try and raise supplies by 
some means or other, and his experience of the last Par- 
liament had shown him that there was no more to be 
obtained from that source. In his extremity Wolsey 
undertook the responsibility of reviving a feudal obliga- 
tion which had long been forgotten. He announced 
that the king purposed to pass the sea in person, and 
demanded that the goodwill of his subjects should provide 


for Ms proper equipment. But the goodwill of the 
people was not allowed the privilege of spontaneous 
generosity. Commissioners were appointed in every 
shire to assess men's property, and require a sixth part of 
it for the king's needs. Wolsey himself addressed the 
citizens of London. "When they gave a feehle assent to 
his request for advice, "whether they thought it con- 
venient that the king should pass the sea with an army 
or not," he proceeded, " Then he must go like a prince, 
which cannot be without your aid." He unfolded his pro- 
posals for a grant of 3s. 4d. in the pound on 50 and 
upwards, 2s. 8d. on 20 and upwards, and Is. in the pound 
on 1 and upwards. Some one pleaded that the times 
were bad. " Sirs," said Wolsey, "speak not to break what 
is concluded, for some shall not pay even a tenth ; and it 
were better that a few should suffer indigence than the 
king at this time should lack. Beware, therefore, and 
resist not, nor ruffle not in this case ; otherwise it may 
fortune to cost some their heads." This was indeed a 
high-handed way of dealing with a public meeting, 
which was only summoned to hear the full measure of 
the coming calamity. We cannot wonder that "all 
people cursed the cardinal and his adherents as subver- 
ters of the laws and liberty of England." Nor was 
Wolsey ignorant of the impogulaniyjwhich he incurred \ 
but there was no escape possible. He rested only on the 
king's favour, and he knew that the kiE^^perspna] .affec- 
tion for him had grown colder^ He was no longer the 
Bung's friend and tutor, inspiring him with his own lofty 
ideas and slowly revealing his far-reaching schemes. 
Late years had seen Wdsex,WM.erijei JaiijQ-busiaess of 
the State, while the king pursued his own pleasures, sur- 


rounded by companions who did their utmost to under- 
mine Wolsey's influence. They advocated war, while he 
longed for peace; they encouraged the royal extrava- 
gance, while he worked for economy ; they favoured the 
imperial alliance and humoured Henry's dreams of the 
conquest of France, while "Wolsey saw that England's 
strength lay in a powerful neutrality. The king's plans 
had deviated from the lines which Wolsey had designed, 
and the king's arbitrary temper had grown more 
impatient of restraint. Wolsey had imperceptibly 
slipped from the position of a friend to that of a servant, 
and he was dimly conscious that his continuance in the 
royal service depended on his continued usefulness. 
Whatever the king required he was bound to provide. 

So Wolsey strained every nerve to fill the royal 
coffers by the device of an "Amicable Loan," which raised 
a storm of popular indignation. Men said with truth 
that they had not yet paid the subsidy voted by Par- 
liament, and already they were exposed to a new exac- 
tion. Coin had never been plentiful in England, and at 
that time it was exceptionally scarce. The commissioners 
in the different shires all reported the exceeding difficulty 
which they met with in the discharge of their unpleasant 
duty. It soon became clear to Wolsey that his demand 
had overshot the limits of prudence, and that money 
could not be raised on the basis of the parliamentary 
assessment without the risk of a rebe^Qn*., Accordingly 
Wolsey withdrew from his original proposal. He sent 
for the mayor and corporation of London and told them, 
in the fictitious language in which constitutional pro- 
cedure is always veiled, " I kneeled down to his Grace, 
showing him both your good minds towards him and also 


the charge you continually sustain, the which, at my 
desire and petition, was content to call in and abrogate 
the same commission." The attempt to raise money on 
the basis of each man's ratable value was abandoned, 
and the more usual method of a benevolence was substi- 
tuted in its stead. 

This, however, was not much more acceptable. 
Again Wolsey summoned the mayor and corporation; 
but they had now grown bolder, and pleaded that bene- 
volences had been abolished by the statute of Eichard III. 
Wolsey angrily answered that Eichard was a usurper 
and a murderer of his nephews; how could his acts 
be good ? " An it please your Grace," was the answer, 
" although he did evil, yet in his time were many good 
acts made not by him only, but by the consent of the 
body of the whole realm, which is Parliament." There 
was nothing more to be said, and Wolsey had to con- 
tent himself with leaving fevery man to contribute 
privily what he would. It did not seem that this spon- 
taneous liberality went far to replenish the royal 

What happened in London was repeated in different 
forms in various parts of England. In Norwich there 
was a tumult, which it needed the presence of the Duke 
of Norfolk to appease. He asked the confused assembly 
who was their captain, and bade that he should speak 
Then out spake one John Greene, a man of fifty years. 
" My lord, since you ask who is our captain, forsooth, 
his name is Poverty ; for he and his cousin Necessity 
have brought us to this doing. For all these persons 
and many more live not of ourselves, but we live by the 
substantial occupiers of this country ; and yet they give 


us so little wages for our workmanship that scarcely we 
be able to live ; and thus in penury we pass the time, 
we, our wives and children : and if they, by whom we 
live, be brought in that case that they of their little can- 
not help us to earn our living, then must we perish and 
die miserably. I speak this, my lord : the clothmakers 
have put away all their people, and a far greater number, 
from work. The husbandmen have put away their ser- 
vants and given up household ; they say the king asketh 
so much that they be not able to do as they have done 
before this time, and then of necessity must we die 

John Greene's speech expressed only too truly the 
condition of affairs in a period of social change. The 
old nobility had declined, and the old form of life 
founded on feudalism was slowly passing away. Trade was 
becoming more important than agriculture ; the growth 
of wool was more profitable than the growth of corn. It 
is true that England as a whole was growing richer, and 
that the standard of comfort was rising ; but there was 
a great displacement of labour, and consequent discon- 
tent. The towns had thriven at the expense of the 
country; and in late years the war with France had 
hindered trade with the Netherlands. The custom 
duties had diminished, the drain of bullion for war 
expenses had crippled English commerce. There had 
been a succession of bad seasons, and every one had 
begun to dimmish his establishment and look more care- 
fully after his expenditure. 

All this was well known to the Duke of Norfolk, and 
was laid before the king. The commissions were recalled, 
pardons were granted to the rioters, and the loan wa$ 


allowed to drop. But Wolsey had to bear all the odium 
of the unsuccessful attempt, while the king gained all the 
popularity of abandoning it. Yet Henry VIII. resented 
the failure, and was angry with Wolsey for exposing him 
to a rebuff, f In spite of his efforts Wolsey was ceasing 
to be so useful as he had been before, and Henry began 
to criticise his minister.^ Brave and resolute as Wolsey 
was, his labours and disappointments began to tell upon 
him. Since the failure of the Conference of Calais he 
had been working not at the development of a policy 
which he approved, but at the uncongenial task of 
diminishing the dangers of a policy which he disap- 
proved. The effects of this constant anxiety told upon 
his health and spirits, and still more upon his temper. 
He might be as able and as firm as ever, but he no 
longer had the ^aD^confidence in. himself. 

It was perhaps this feeling which led Wolsey to show 
bhe king the extremity of his desire to serve him. by 
undertaking the desperate endeavour to wring more 
money from an exhausted people. Wolsey had done his 
utmost to satisfy the king ; he had accepted without a 
murmur the burden of popular hatred which the attempt 
was sure to bring. There is a pathos in his words, 
reported by an unfriendly hand, addressed to the 
council: "Because every man layeth the burden from 
him, I am content to take it on me, and to endure the 
fume and noise of the people, for my goodwill towards 
the king, and comfort of you, my lords and other the 
king's councillors; but the eternal God knoweth all." 
Nor was it enough that he submitted to the storm ; he 
wished to give the king a further proof of his devotion. 
Though others might withhold their substance, yet he 


would not. He offered tike king his house at Hampton 
Court, which he had built as his favourite retreat, 
and had adorned to suit his taste. It was indeed a royal 
gift, and Henry had no scruple in accepting it. But the 
offer seems to show an uneasy desire to draw closer a 
bond which had been gradually loosened, and renew an 
intimacy which was perceptibly diminishing. 

However, in one way Wolsey had a right to feel 
satisfaction even in his ill-success. If money was not 
to be had, war was impossible, and Wolsey might now 
pursue his own policy and work for peace. He had to 
face the actual facts that England was allied to Charles, 
who had won a signal victory over Francis, and had 
in his hands a mighty hostage in the person of the 
King of France. His first object was to discover Charles 
V.'s intentions, and prevent him from using his advan- 
tage solely for his own profit. Bishop Tunstal and Sir 
Eichard Wingfield were sent to Charles with orders 
to put on a bold face, and find whether Charles thought 
of dethroning Francis or releasing him for a ransom. In 
the first case, they were to offer military aid from 
England ; in the second, they were to claim for England 
a large share in the concessions to be wrung out of 
Francis. The English demands were so exorbitant 
that though they may have satisfied the fantastic as- 
pirations of Henry, Wolsey must have known them to 
be impossible. Under cover of a friendly proposal to 
Charles he was really preparing the way for a breach. 

Charles on his side was engaged in playing a similar 
game. In spite of his success at Pavia he was really 
helpless. He had no money, and the captivity of the 
French king awakened so much alarm in Europe that 


he felt compelled to use Ms advantage moderately. As 
a first measure he needed money, and saw no chance of 
obtaining it save by marrying Isabella of Portugal, who 
would bring him a dowry of 1,000,000 golden crowns. For 
this purpose he must free himself from the engagement 
of the treaty of Windsor, by which he was betrothed to 
Mary of England. So he acted as "Wolsey was acting. 
He professed a great desire to carry out his engagement 
as a means of getting rid of it, and sent ambassadors to 
ask that Mary and her dowry should be given up to him, 
with a further loan of 200,000 ducats. 

The two embassies had crossed on the way, and 
Henry received Charles's communication as an answer 
to his demands. In this way it served Wolsey's 
purpose admirably, for it showed clearly enough that the 
interests of Henry and Charles were not the same. 
Charles was bent upon pursuing his own advantage, and 
was still willing to use Henry as a useful ally; but 
Henry saw nothing to be gained from the alliance, and 
the time had come when some tangible gain was to be 
secured from all his expenditure. Hitherto he had been 
personally on Charles's side, but in his conferences with 
the imperial envoys in the month of June he made it 
clear tha,t his patience was exhausted. Henceforth he^ 
accepted Wolsey's views of geace i jyriti^JFrsuace. If 
Charles was striving to make what he could out of the 
captivity of the French king, then England might as 
well join in the scramble. The misfortune of France 
was England's opportunity. If Charles was not willing 
to share his gains with Henry, then Henry must pick up 
what he could for himself. It was an unwelcome con- 
clusion for Charles, who hoped to bring the pressure of 


irresistible necessity to bear on his captive. If England 
also joined in the bidding its competition would run 
down his price. 

Moreover, this resolution of Henry made a great 
change in his domestic relations. Queen Katharine was 
devoted to her nephew's interests, and had exercised con- 
siderable influence over her husband. They talked 
together about politics, and Henry liked to move amidst 
acquiescent admiration. All that was now at an end, 
as Katharine could not change her sympathies, and had 
not the tact to disguise her disapprobation. From this 
time forward Henry did not treat her with the affection 
and familiarity which had been his wont, and when he 
made up his mind he did not scruple to emphasise his 
decision by his acts. He had not been a faithful husband, 
but hitherto his infidelity had not been a cause of 
domestic discord. He had an illegitimate son, Henry 
Fitzroy, by Elizabeth Blunt, one of the Queen's ladies- 
in-waiting; and on 15th June he created this boy of 
six years old Duke of Richmond. This he did with a 
display of pomp and ceremony which must have been 
very offensive to the Queen ; nor was the offence dim- 
inished when, a month afterwards, the boy was created 
Lord High Admiral of England. Such an act was, to 
say the least, a taunt to Katharine that she had borne no 
son; it was a public proclamation of the king's dis- 
appointment and discontent with his matrimonial lot. 
The luckless Katharine could make no complaint, and 
was forced to submit to the king's will ; but we cannot 
doubt that she put down to Wolsey what was not his due, 
and that Wolsey had to bear the hatred of her friends 
for the king's change of policy, and all that flowed from it 


However, Wolsey's course was now clearly to dissolve 
the imperial alliance without causing a breach. For this 
purpose he used Charles's desire for his Portuguese 
marriage. He offered to release Charles from his 
engagement to Mary on condition that the treaty was 
annulled, that he paid his debts to Henry, and concluded 
a peace with France to England's satisfaction. Charles 
refused to take any step so decided, and the negotiations 
proceeded. But Wolsey's attention was not so much 
directed to Charles as to France, where Louise, the king's 
mother, was desperately striving to procure her son's 
release. In their dealings with France there was a 
keen rivalry between England and the Emperor, which 
should succeed in making terms soonest. In this com- 
petition Wolsey had one advantage; he had already 
learned the stubbornness of the national spirit of France, 
and its willingness to submit to anything rather than 
territorial loss. So, while Charles haggled for provinces, 
Wolsey demanded money. He told the French envoys 
that in order to make peace, without having won laurels 
to justify it, Henry could not take less than 2,000,000 
crowns, and he would hear of no abatement. There 
was much discussion of all the old claims of England for 
compensation from France, but Wolsey knew the neces- 
sity of the moment, and carried all his points. 

When the terms were agreed upon there was another 
discussion about the security to be given. Francis was 
a prisoner in Spain, and though his mother was regent, a 
doubt might be thrown upon her capacity to ratify such 
an important treaty. Wolsey would admit no doubts 
in the matter. He knew that peace with France would 
not be popular, but he was determined that his master 


should see its advantage in the substantial form of ready 
money with good security for its payment. Besides 
ratification by the regent he demanded the personal 
security of several French nobles, of towns and local 
estates. At length he was satisfied. The treaty was 
signed on 30th August, and was published on 6th Sep- 
tember. Henry was to receive 2,000,000 crowns in 
annual instalments of 50,000; the treaty included 
Scotland as an ally of France, and it was stipulated that 
the Duke of Albany was not to return. Scotland, left 
unprotected, was bound to follow France, and in January 
1526 peace was signed with Scotland to the satisfaction 
of both countries. 

Wolsey could congratulate himself on the result of 
his work Again he had won for England a strong 
position, by setting her in the forefront of the opposition 
to the overweening power of the empire. Again had 
England's action done much to restore the equilibrium 
of Europe. This had been achieved solely by Wolsey's 
diplomacy. Charles V. had received a blow which he 
could neither parry nor resent. The French treaty 
with England deprived Charles of the means of exercis- 
ing irresistible pressure upon Francis, and encouraged 
the Italian States to form an alliance against the Emperor. 
Francis, weary of his long captivity, signed the treaty 
of Madrid, and obtained his freedom in February 1526. 
But he previously protested against it as extorted by 
violence, and refused to surrender an inch of French 
territory notwithstanding his promises. Charles gained 
little by his victory at Payia. His hands were again 
full, as the Turks invaded Hungary, and Francis 
joined the Italian League against him. He still had 


every motive to keep on good terms with England, and 
Wolsey had no desire to precipitate a breach. 

So Wolsey's policy for the future was one of caution 
and reserve. The king withdrew more and more from 
public affairs, and spent his time in hunting. His rela- 
tions with Katharine became day by day more irksome, 
and he tried to forget his domestic life by leading a life 
of pleasure. Wolsey strove to hold the balance between 
Charles and Francis without unduly inclining to either 
side. Both wished to be on good terms with England, 
for neither was free from anxiety. The sons of Francis 
were hostages in Spain, and Charles was hampered by 
the opposition of the Italian League. Of this League 
Henry VIII. was a member, Buf he declined to give it 
any active support The Italians, as usual, were divided, 
and Clement VII. was not the man to direct their distracted 
councils successfully. In September 1526 a small force 
of Spaniards, aided by a party amongst the Eoman 
barons, surprised Borne, sacked the papal palace, and 
filled Clement with terror. Charles V. disavowed 
any share in this attack, and excused himself before 
Henry's remonstrances. But as Clement did not 
entirely amend his ways, the experiment was repeated 
on a larger scale. In May 1527 the imperial troops 
under the Duke of Bourbon and the G-erman general 
George Frundsberg captured and plundered Kome, and 
took the Pone prisoner. This unwonted deed filled 
Europe with horror. It seemed as if the Emperor had 
joined the enemies of the Church. 

During this period Wolsey had been cautiously 
drawing nearer to France. At first he only contemplated 
strengthening the ties which bound the two countries 


together; but In the beginning of 1527 he was willing 
to form a close alliance with France, which must lead to 
a breach with the Emperor. French commissioners 
came to London, and a proposal was made that Francis 
should marry Mary, then a child of ten, though he was 
betrothed to the Emperor's sister Eleanor. Wolsey's 
demands were high : a perpetual peace between the two 
countries, a perpetual pension of 50,000 crowns to the 
English king, a tribute of salt, and the surrender of 
Boulogne and Ardres. In the course of the discussion 
the son of Francis, the Duke of Orleans, was substituted 
for the father as Mary's husband ; on all other points 
Wolsey had his will, and never did he show himself a 
more consummate master of diplomacy. The treaty 
was signed on SOth April. The debts of Charles were 
transferred to Francis, and Wolsey could show that he 
had made a substantial gain. 

Doubtless Wolsey intended that this peace with 
France should form the basis of a universal peace, which 
he never ceased to pursue. The success of Charles V. 
in Italy, and subsequent events at home, rapidly dispelled 
his hopes. Already the selfwill of Henry VIII. had 
driven him to consent to measures which were against 
his judgment; the same selfwill, turned to domestic 
and personal affairs, was already threatening to involve 
Wolsey in a matter whose far-reaching effects no man 
could foresee. 



WE have been following the laborious career of Wolsey 
in his direction of foreign affairs. He held in his hands 
the threads of complicated negotiations, by which he 
was endeavouring to assure England's power on the 
Continent, not by means of war but by skilful diplo- 
macy. In doing this he had to guard the commercial 
relations of England with the Netherlands, and had also 
to bow before the selfwill of the king, who insisted 
on pursuing fantastic designs of personal aggrandise- 
ment. Still he steered a careful course amidst many 
difficulties, though when he looked back upon his 
labours of thirteen years he must have owned to serious 
disappointment. Perhaps he sometimes asked himself 
the question, if foreign policy was worthy of the best 
attention of an English minister, if he had not erred in 
adventuring on such large schemes abroad. There was 
much to do at home ; many useful measures of reform 
awaited only a convenient season. He had hoped, when 
first he began his course, to have seen England long 
before this time peaceful and powerful, the arbiter of 
European affairs, a pattern to other kingdoms, dealing 


honestly and sagaciously with the pressing needs of the 
time. He had laboured incessantly for that end, but it 
was as far off as ever. The year 1527 saw England 
exhausted by useless wars, and Europe plunged in irre- 
concilable strife. Wolsey's dream of a united Europe, 
cautiously moved by England's moderating counsels, had 
vanished before forces which he could not control. 

Meanwhile domestic reforms had been thrust into the 
background. Wolsey was keenly alive to their im- 
portance, and had a distinct policy which he wished to 
carry out. He had carefully gathered into his hands 
fche power which would enable him to act, but he could 
notJmcHihe time for definite action. Something he 
contrived to do, so as to prepare the way for more ; but 
his schemes were never revealed in their entirety, though 
he trained the men who afterwards carried them out, 
though in a crude and brutal shape. 

England was passing through a period of social change 
which necessitated a re -adjustment of old institutions. 
The decayj)f feudalism in the Wars of the Eoses had been 
little noticed, but its results had been profound. In the 
sphere of government the check exercised by the barons 
on the Crown was destroyed. Henry YII. carefully 
depressed the baronage and spared the pockets of the 
people, who were willing to have the conduct of affairs 
in the hands of the king so long as he kept order and 
guarded the commercial interests, which were more and 
more absorbing national energies. The nation wished 
for a strong government to put down anarchy and main-.^ 
tain order; but the nation was not willing to bear 
the cost of a strong government on constitutional princi- 
ples. Henry VII soon found that he might do what 


he liked provided lie did not ask for money ; he might 
raise supplies by unconstitutional exactions on individuals 
provided he did not embarrass the bulk of the middle 
classes, who were busied with trade. The nobles, the 
rich landowners, the wealthy merchants, were left to the 
king's mercies ; so long as the pockets of the commons 
were spared they troubled themselves no further. 

Henry VII. recognised this condition of national 
feeling, and pursued a policy of levelling class privileges 
and cautiously heeding the popular interests ; by these 
means he established the royal power on a strong basis, 
and carried on his government through capable officials, 
who took their instructions from himself. Some of the 
old nobles held office, but they gradually were reduced 
to the same level as the other officials with whom they 
consorted. The power of the old nobility passed silently 

With this political change a social change corresponded. 
The barons of former years were great in proportion to 
the number of their retainers and the strength of their 
castles. How retainers were put down by the Star 
Chamber; and the feudal lord was turned into the 
country gentleman. Land changed hands rapidly; 
opulent merchants possessed themselves of estates. The 
face of the country began to wear a new look, for the 
new landlords did not desire a numerous tenantry but a 
large income. The great trade of England was wool, 
which was exported to Flanders. Tillage lands "were 
thrown into pasture; small holders found it more 
difficult to live on their holdings ; complaints were 
heard that the country was being depopulated. England 
was slowly passing through an economic change which , 


involved a displacement of population, and consequent 
misery on the labouring classes. No doubt there was 
a great increase in national prosperity ; but prosperity 
was na^umyersally diffused at once, and men were keenly 
conscious of present difficulties. Beneath the surface of 
society there was a widespread feeling of discontent. 

Moreover, amongst thinking men a new spirit was begin- 
ning to prevail In Italy this new spirit was manifest by 
quickened curiosity about the world and life, and found 
its expression in a study of classical antiquity. Curiosity 
soon led to criticism ; and before the new criticism the 
old ideas on which the intellectual life of the Middle 
Ages was built were slowly passing away. Rhetoric took 
the place of logic, and the study of the classics super- 
seded the study of theology. This movement of thought 
slowly found its way to England, where it began to in- 
fluence the higher minds. 

) Thus England was going through a crisis politically, 
socially, and intellectually, when Wolsey undertook the 
management of affairs. 7 This crisis was not acute, and 
did not call for immediate measures of direction; but 
Wolsey was aware of its existence, and had his own 
plans for the future. We must regret that he put 
foreign policy in the first place, and reserved his con- 
structive measures for domestic affairs. The time seemed 
ripe for great achievements abroad, and Wolsey was 
hopeful of success. He may be pardoned for his lofty 
aspirations, for if he had succeeded England would have 
led the way in a deliberate settlement of many questions 
which concerned the wellbeing of the whole of Christen- 
dom. But success eluded Wolsey's grasp,. and he fell 
from power before he had time to trace decidedly the 


lines on which. England might settle her problems for 
herself ; and when the solution came it was strangely 
entangled in the personal questions which led to Wolsey's 
fall from power. Yet even here we may doubt if the 
measures of the English Eeformation would have been 
possible if Wolsey's mind had not inspired the king and 
the nation with a heightened consciousness of England's 
power and dignity. Wolsey's diplomtaey at least tore 
away all illusions about "Pope and Emperor, and the 
opinion of Europe, and taught Henry VIII. the measure 
of his own strength. 

It was impossible thatWolsey's powerful hand should 
not leave its impression upon everything which it touched. 
If Henry VIIL inherited a strong monarchy, Wolsey 
made the basis of monarchical power still stronger. It 
was natural that he should do so, as he owed his own 
position entirely to the royal favour. But never had 
any king so devoted a servant as had Henry VIII, in 
"Wolsey; and this devotion was not entirely due to 
motives of selfish calculation or to personal attraction. 
Wolsey saw in the royal power the only possible means 
of holding England togethe"! and guiding it through the 
dangers of impending change. ) In his eyes the king 
and the king alone could collect and give expression to 
the national will. * ^England itself was unconscious of its 
capacities, and was heedless about the future. The 
nobles, so far as they had any policy, were only desirous 
to win back their old position. The Church was no 
longer the inspirer of popular aspirations or the bulwark 
of popular freedom. Its riches were regarded with a 
jealous eye by the middle classes, who were busied with 
trade ; the defects of its organisation had been deplored 


by its most spiritually-minded sons for a century ; its 
practices, if not its tenets, awakened the ridicule of men 
of intelligence; its revenues supplied the king with 
officials more than they supplied the country with faith- 
ful pastors ; its leaders were content to look to the king 
for patronage and protection. The traders of the towns 
and the new landlords of the country appreciated the 
growth of their fortunes in a period of internal quiet, 
and dreaded anything that might bring back discord. 
The labouring classes felt that redress of their grievances 
was more possible from a far-off king than from land- 
lords who, in their eyes, were bent upon extortion. 
Every class looked to the king, and was confident in his 
good intentions. "We cannot wonder that Wolsey saw 
in the royal power the only possible instrument strong 
enough to work reforms, and set himself with goodwiD 
to make that instrument efficacious. 

So Wolsey was in no sense a constitutional minister, 
nor did he pay much heed to constitutional forms. Par- 
liament was only summoned once during the time that 
he was in office, and then he tried to browbeat Parlia- 
ment and set aside its privileges. In his view the only 
function of Parliament was to grant money for the 
king's needs. The king should say how much he needed, 
and Parliament ought only to advise how this sum might 
most conveniently be raised. We have seen that Wolsey 
failed in his attempt to convert Parliament into a sub- 
missive instrument of royal despotism. He under-esti- 
mated the strength of constitutional forms and the 
influence of precedent. Parliament was willing to do 
its utmost to meet the wishes of the king, but it would 
not submit to Wolsey's high-handed dictation. The 


habits of diplomacy had impaired Wolsey's sagacity in 
other fields ; he had been so busy in managing emperors 
and kings that he had forgotten "how to deal with his 
fellow-countrymen. He was unwise in his attempt to 
force the king's will upon Parliament as an unchangeable 
law of its action. Henry THE. looked on and learned 
from Wolsey's failure, and when he took the manage- 
ment of Parliament into his own hands he showed him- 
self a consummate master of that craft. His skill in this 
direction has scarcely been sufficiently estimated, and 
his success has been put down to the servility of Parlia- 
ment. But Parliament was by no means servile under 
Wolsey's overbearing treatment. If it was subservient 
to Henry the reason is to be found in his excellent 
tactics. He conciliated different interests at different 
times ; he mixed the redress of acknowledged grievances 
with the assertion of far-reaching claims ; he decked out 
selfish motives in fair-sounding language ; he led men on 
step by step till they were insensibly pledged to mea- 
sures more drastic than they approved ; he kept the 
threads of his policy in his own hands till the only 
escape from utter confusion was an implicit confidence in 
his wisdom ; he made it almost impossible for those who 
were dissatisfied to find a point on which they could 
establish a principle for resistance. He was so skilful that 
Parliament at last gave Mm even the power over the 
purse, and Henry, without raising a murmur, im- 
posed taxes which Wolsey would not have dared to 
suggest. It is impossible not to feel that Hemj, perhaps 
taught in some degree by Cromwell, understood the 
temper of the English people far better thai* Wolsey 
ever' did. He established the royal power on a broader 


and securer basis than Wolsey could have erected. 
Where Wolsey would have made the Crown independent 
of Parliament, Henry VIII. reduced Parliament to be a 
willing instrument of the royal will. Wolsey would 
have subverted the constitution, or at least would have 
reduced it to a lifeless form; Henry VIII. so worked 
the constitutional machinery that it became an addi- 
tional source of power to his monarchy. 

But though Wolsey was not successful in his method 
of making the royal power supreme over Parliament, he 
took the blame of failure upon himself, and saved the 
king's popularity. Wolsey's devotion to his master was 
complete, and cannot be assigned purely to selfish 
motives. Wolsey felt that his opinions, his policy, his 
aspirations had been formed through his intercourse with 
the king; and he was only strong when he and his 
master were thoroughly at one. At first the two men 
had been in complete agreement, and it cost Wolsey 
many a pang when he found that Henry did not entirely 
agree with his conclusions. After the imperial alliance 
was made Wolsjsy lost much of his brilliancy, his dash, 
and his force,. This was not the result of age, or fatigue, 
or hopelessness so much as_of the feeling that hej^d^the 
king were no longer in accord. Like many other strong 
men, Wolsey was sensitive. He did not care for popu- 
larity, but he felt the need of being understood and 
trusted. He gave the king his affection, and he craved 
for a return. There was no one else who could under- 
stand him or appreciate his aims, and when he felt that he 
was valued for his usefulness rather than trusted for 
what he was in himself, the spring of his life's energy 
was gone. 


Still "Woisey laboured In all things to exalt the royal 
power, for In it he saw the only hope of the future, 
and England endorsed his opinion. But Woisey was 
too great a man to descend to servility, and Henry 
always treated him with respect. In fact Woisey always 
behaved with a strong sense of his personal dignity, and 
carried stickling for decorum to the verge of punctilious- 
ness. Doubtless he had a decided taste for splendour 
and magnificence, but It Is scarcely fair to put this down 
to the arrogance of an upstart, as was done by his 
English contemporaries. Woisey believed in the influence 
of outward display on the popular mind, and did his 
utmost to throw over the king a veil of unapproachable 
grandeur and unimpeachable rectitude.) He took upon 
himself the burden of the king's responsibilities, and 
stood forward to shield him against the danger of losing 
the confidence of his people!! As the king's repre- 
sentative he assumed a royal Isiate ; he wished men to 
see that they were governed from above, and he strove to 
accustom them to the pomp of power. In his missions 
abroad, and in his Interviews with foreign ambassadors, he 
was still more punctilious than in the matters of domestic 
government. If the king was always to be regarded as 
the king, Woisey, as the mouthpiece of the royal will, 
never abated his claims to honour only less than royal ; 
but he acted not so much from self-assertion as from 
policy. At home and abroad equally the greatness of 
the royal power was to be unmistakably set forth, and 
ostentation was an element in the game of brag to which 
a spirited foreign policy inevitably degenerates. It was 
for the king's sake that Wolsej magnified himself; he 
never assumed an independent position, but all his 


triumphs were loyally lai^j;tjli^jking!s, Jeet In this 
point, again, Wolsey overshot the mark, and did not 
understand the English people, -who were not impressed in 
the manner which lie intended. When Henry took the 
government more directly into Ms own hands he managed 
better for himself, for he knew how to identify the royal 
will with the aspirations of the people, and clothed his 
despotism with the appearance of paternal solicitude. 
He made the people think that he lived for them, and 
that their interests were his, whereas Wolsey endeavoured 
to convince the people that the king alone could guard 
their interests, and that their only course was to put 
entire confidence in him. Henry saw that men were 
easier to cajole than to convince; he worked for no 
system of royal authority, but contented himself with 
establishing his own will. In spite of the disadvantage 
of a royal education, Henry was a more thorough English- 
man than Wolsey, though Wolsey sprang from the 

It was Wolsey's teaching, however, that prepared 
Henry for Ms task. The king who could use a minister 
like Wolsey and then throw him away when he was no 
longer useful, felt that there was no limitation to his 

Wolsey, indeed, was a minister in a sense which had 
never been seen in England before, for he held in his 
hand the chief power alike in Church and State. Not 
only was he chancellor, but also Archbishop of York, and 
endowed beside with special legatine powers. These powers 
were not coveted merely for purposes of show : Wolsey 
intended to use them, when opportunity offered, as a 
means of bringing the Church under the royal power as 


completely as he wished to subject the State. He had 
little respect for the ecclesiastical organisation as such ; 
he saw its obvious weaknesses, and wished to provide a 
remedy. If he was a candidate for the Papacy, it was 
from no desire to pursue an ecclesiastical policy of his 
own, but to make the papal power subservient to England's 
interests. He was sufficiently clear-sighted to perceive 
that national aspirations could not much longer be 
repressed by the high-sounding claims of the Papacy ; he 
saw that the system of the Church must be adapted to 
the conditions of the time, and he wished to avert a 
revolution by a quiet process of steady and reasonable 
reform. He was perhaps honest in saying that he was 
not greatly anxious for the Papacy ; for he knew that 
England gave him ample scope for his energies, and he 
hoped that the example of England would spread 
throughout Europe. So at the beginning of his career 
he prftsed for legatine powers, which were grudgingly 
granted by Leo X., first for one year, and afterwards 
for five ; till the gratitude of Clement VII. conferred 
them for life. Clothed with this authority, and working 
in concert with the king, Wolsey was supreme over 
the English Church, and perhaps dreamed of a future in 
which the Koman Pontiff would practically resign his 
claims over the northern churches to an English delegate, 
who might become his equal or superior in actual power. 
However this might be, he certainly contemplated the 
reform of the English Church, by means of a judicious 
mixture of royal and ecclesiastical authority. Every- 
thing was propitious for such an undertaking, as the 
position of the Church was felt to be in many ways 
anomalous and antiquated. The rising middle class had 


many grievances to complain of from the ecclesiastical 
courts ; the new landlords looked with contempt on the 
management of monastic estates ; the new learning 
mocked at the ignorance of the clergy, and scoffed at the 
superstitions of a simpler past which had survived unduly 
into an age when criticism was coming into fashion. 
The power of the Church had been great in days when 
the State was rude and the clergy were the natural 
leaders of men. Now the State was powerful and enjoyed 
men's confidence ; they looked to the king to satisfy their 
material aspirations, and the Church had not been very 
successful in keeping their spiritual aspirations alive. 
It was not that men were opposed to the Church, but 
they judged its privileges to be excessive, its disciplinary 
courts to be vexatious, its officials to be too numerous, and 
its wealth to be devoted to purposes which had ceased 
to be of the first importance. There was a general desire 
to see a re-adjustment of many matters in whibh the 
Church was concerned; and before this popular sentiment 
churchmen found it difficult to assert their old pretensions, 
and preferred to rest contentedly under the protection 
of the Crown. 

A trivial incident shows the general condition 
of affairs with sufficient clearness. One of the claims 
which on the whole the clergy had maintained was 
the right of trial before ecclesiastical courts; and the 
greater leniency of ecclesiastical sentences had been a 
useful modification of the severity of the criminal law, so 
that benefit of clergy had been permitted to receive 
large extension of interpretation. Further, the sanctity 
of holy places had been permitted to give rights of 
sanctuary to criminals fleeing from justice or revenge, 


Both of these expedients had been useful in a rude state 
of society, and had done much to uphold a higher stand- 
ard of humanity. But it was clear that they were only 
temporary expedients which were needless and even 
harmful as society grew more settled and justice was 
regularly administered. Henry VII. had felt the need 
of diminishing the rights of sanctuary, which gave a 
dangerous immunity to the numerous rebels against 
whom he had to contend, and he obtained a bull for that 
purpose from Pope Innocent VIII. The example which 
he set was speedily followed, and an Act was passed by 
the Parliament of 1511, doing away with sanctuary and 
benefit of clergy in the case of those who were accused of 

It does not seem that the Act met with any decided 
opposition at the time that it was passed; but there 
were still sticklers for clerical immunities, who regarded 
it as a dangerous innovation, and during the session of 
Parliament in 1515 the Abbot of Winchcombe preached 
a sermon in which he denounced it as an impious measure. 
Henry VIII. adopted a course which afterwards stood 
him in good stead in dealing with the Church ; he sub- 
mitted the question to a commission of divines and tem- 
poral peers. In the course of the discussion Standish, 
the Warden of the Friars Minors, put the point clearly 
and sensibly by saying, " The Act was not against the 
liberty of the Church, for it was passed for the weal 
of the whole realm." The clerical party were not 
prepared to face so direct an issue, and answered that it 
was contrary to the decretals. " So," replied Standish, 
"is the non-residence of bishops; yet that is common 
enough." Baffled in their appeal to law the bishops fell 


back upon Scripture, and quoted the text, " Touch not 
mine anointed." Again Standish turned against them 
the new critical spirit, which destroyed the old argu- 
ments founded on isolated texts. David, he said, used 
these words of all God's people as opposed to the heathen ; 
as England was a Christian country the text covered the 
laity as well as the clergy. It was doubtless galling to 
the clerical party to be so remorselessly defeated by one 
of their own number, and their indignation was in- 
creased when the temporal lords on the commission 
decided against the Abbot of Winchcombe and ordered 
him to apologise. 

The bishops vented their anger on Standish, and 
summoned him to answer for his conduct before Convo- 
cation, whereon he appealed to the king. Again Henry 
appointed a commission, this time exclusively of laymen, 
to decide between Standish and his accusers. They 
reported that Convocation, by its proceeding against one 
who was acting as a royal commissioner, had incurred 
the penalties of prsernunire, and they added that the 
king could, if he chose, hold a parliament without the 
lords spiritual, who had no place therein save by virtue 
of their temporal possessions. Probably this was in- 
tended as a significant hint to the spirituality that they 
had better not interfere unduly with parliamentary 
proceedings. Moreover, at the same time a case had 
occurred which stirred popular feeling against the ecclesi- 
astical courts. A London merchant had been arrested 
by the chancellor of the Bishop of London on a charge 
of heresy, and a few days after his arrest was found 
hanging dead in his cell. Doubtless the unhappy man 
had committed suicide, but there was a suspicion that 


his arrest was due to a private grudge on the part of the 
chancellor, who was accused of having made away with 
him privily. Popular feeling waxed high, and the lords 
who gave their decision so roundly against Convocation 
knew that they were sure of popular support. 

Henry was not sorry of an opportunity of teach- 
ing the clergy their dependence upon himself, and he 
summoned the bishops before him that he might read 
them a lesson. Wolsey's action on this occasion is 
noticeable. He seems to have been the only one who saw 
the gravity of the situation, and he strove to effect a 
dignified compromise. Before the king could speak 
Wolsey knelt before him and interceded for the clergy. 
He said that they had designed nothing against the 
king's prerogative, but thought it their duty to uphold 
the rights of the Church; he prayed that the matter 
might be referred to the decision of the Pope. Henry 
answered that he was satisfied with the arguments of 
Standish. Fox, Bishop of Winchester, turned angrily on 
Standish, and Archbishop Warham plucked up his 
courage so far as to say feebly, " Many holy men have 
resisted the law of England on this point and have 
suffered martyrdom." But Henry knew that he had 
not to deal with a second Becket, and that the days of 
Becket had gone by for ever. He would have nothing 
to say to papal intervention or to clerical privilege ; the 
time had come for the assertion of royal authority, and 
Henry could use his opportunity as skilfully as the most 
skilful priest. " We," said he, " are by God's grace king 
of England, and have no superior but God; we will 
maintain the rights of the Crown like our predecessors ; 
your decrees you break and interpret at your pleasure : 


but we will not consent to your Interpretation any more 
than our predecessors have done." The immemorial 
rights of the English Crown were vaguer and more for- 
midable than the rights of the Church, and the bishops 
retired in silence. Henry did not forget the service 
rendered him by Standish, who was made Bishop of St. 
Asaph in 1518. 

In this incident we have a forecast of the subsequent 
course of events the threat of praemunire, the assertion 
of the royal supremacy, the submission of the clergy. 
Nothing" was wanting save a sufficient motive to work a 
revolution in the ancient relations between Church and 
State. <JWolsey alone seems to have seen how precari- 
ous was the existing position of the Church. He knew 
that the Church was wrong, and that it would have to 
give way, but he wished to clothe its submission with a 
semblance of dignity, and to use the papal power, not as 
a means of guarding the rights of the Church, but as a 
means of casting an air of ecclesiastical propriety over 
their abandonment^} Doubtless he proposed to use his 
legatine power for that purpose if the need arose ; but 
he was loyal to the Church as an institution, and did not 
wish it to fall unreservedly to the tender mercies of the 
king. He saw that this was only to be avoided by a 
judicious pliancy on the Church's part, which could gain 
a breathing-space for carrying out gradual reforms. 

The fact that Wolsey was a statesman rather than an 
ecclesiastic gave him a clear view of the direction which 
a conservative reformation should pursue. He saw that 
the Church was too wealthy and too powerful for the 
work which it was actually doing. The wealth and 
power of the Church were a heritage from a former age, 


In which the care for the higher interests of society fell 
entirely into the hands of the Church because the State 
was rude and barbarous, and had no machinery save for 
the discharge of rudimentary duties. Bishops were the 
only officials who could curb the lawlessness of feudal 
lords; the clergy were the only refuge from local 
tyranny; monks were the only landlords who cleared 
the forests, drained the marshes, and taught the pursuits 
of peace ; monastery schools educated the sons of pea- 
sants, an$ the universities gave young men of ability a 
career. All the humanitarian duties of society were 
discharged by the Church, and the Church had 
grown in wealth and importance because of its readi- 
ness to discharge them. But as the State gre^v 
stronger, and as the power of Parliament increased, it 
was natural that duties which had once been delegated 
should be assumed by the community at large.! It was 
equally natural that institutions which had once been 
useful should outlast their usefulness and be regarded 
with a jealous eye. By the end of the reign of Edward 
I. England had been provided with as many monastic 
institutions as it needed, and the character of monasticism 
began to decline. Benefactions for social purposes from 
that time forward were mainly devoted to colleges, hos- 
pitals, and schools. The fact that so many great church- 
men were royal ministers shows how the energy of the 
Church was placed at the disposal of the State and 
was by it absorbed. The Church possessed revenues, 
and a staff of officials which were too large for the 
time, in which it was not the only worker in the field of 
social welfare. It possessed rights and privileges which 
were necessary for its protection in days of anarchy and 


lawlessness, but which were invidious in days of more 
settled government. Moreover, the tenure of so much 
land by ecclesiastical corporations like monasteries, was 
viewed with jealousy in a time when commercial com- 
petition was becoming a dominant motive in a society 
which had ceased to be mainly warlike. 

From this point of view Wolsey was prepared for 
gradual changes in the position of the Church ; but he 
did not wish those changes to be revolutionary, nor did 
he wish them to be made by the power of the State. 
He knew the real weakness of the Church and the prac- 
tical omnipotence of the king ; but he hoped to unite the 
interests of the Crown and of the Church by his own 
personal influence and by his position as the trusted 
minister of king and Pope alike. 

He did not, however, deceive himself about the prac- 
tical difficulties in the way of a conservative reform, 
which should remove the causes of popular discontent, 
and leave the Church an integral part of the State 
organisation. He knew that the ecclesiastical system, 
even in its manifest abuses, was closely interwoven with 
English society, and he knew the strength of clerical 
conservatism. He knew also the dangers which beset 
the Church if it came across the royal will and pleasure. 
If any reform were to be carried out it must be by rais- 
ing the standard of clerical intelligence. Already many 
things which had accorded with the simpler minds of an 
earlier age had become objects of mockery to educated 
laymen. Tfie raillery of Erasmus at the relics of St, 
Thomas of Canterbury and the Virgin's milk preserved 
at Walsingham expressed the difference which had arisen 
between the old practices of religion and the belief of 


thoughtful men. It would be well to divert some of the 
revenues of the Church from the maintenance of idle and 
ignorant monks to the education of a body of learned 

This diversion of monastic property had long been 
projected and attempted. William of Wykeham endowed 
his New College at Oxford with lands which he purchased 
from monasteries. Henry YI. endowed Eton and 
King's College with revenues which came from the sup- 
pression of alien priories. In 1497 John Alcock, Bishop 
of Ely, obtained leave to suppress the decrepit nunnery 
of St. Ehadegund in Cambridge and use its site for the 
foundation of Jesus College. Wolsey only carried 
farther and made more definite the example which had 
previously been set when in 1524 he obtained from Pope 
Clement VII permission to convert into a college the 
monastery of St. Elides wyde in Oxford. J Soon after he 
obtained a bull allowing him to suppress monasteries 
with fewer than seven inmates, and devote their revenues 
to educational purposes. 

Nor was Wolsey the only man who was of opinion 
that the days of monasticism were numbered. In 1515 
Bishop Fox of Winchester contemplated the foundation 
of a college at Oxford in connection with the monastery 
of St. Swithin at Winchester. He was dissuaded from 
making his college dependent on a monastery by his 
brother bishop, Oldham of Exeter, who said, " Shall we 
build houses and provide livelihoods for a company of 
bussing monks, whose end and fall we ourselves may 
live to see 1 ? No, no: it is meet to provide for the 
increase of learning, and for such as by learning shall do 
good to Church and commonwealth." Oldham's advice 


diixal projected a college and has built a tavern." They 
did not understand that Wolsey was not merelyltdding 
to the number of Oxford colleges, but was creating a 
society which should dominate the University, and be 
the centre of a new intellectual movement. For this 
purpose Wolsey devised a foundation which should be at 
once ecclesiastical and civil, and should set forward his 
own conception of the relations between the Church and 
the intellectual and social life of the nation. His founda- 
tion consisted of a dean, sixty canons, six professors, 
forty petty canons, twelve chaplains, twelve clerks, and 
sixteen choristers ; and he proposed to fill it with men 
of his own choice, who would find there a fitting sphere 
for their energies. 

Wolsey was a man well adapted to hold the balance 
between the old and the new learning. He had been 
trained in the theology of the schools, and was a student 
of St. Thomas Aquinas ; but he had learned by the 
training of life to understand the new ideas ; he grasped 
their importance, and he foresaw their triumph. He 
was a friend of the band of English scholars who brought 
to Oxford the study of Greek, and he sympathised with 
the intellectual aspirations of Grocyn, Colet, More, and 
Erasmus. Perhaps he rather sympathised than under- 
stood ; but his influence was cast on their side when the 
opposition to the new learning broke out in the Univer- 
sity and the Trojans waged a desperate and at first a 
successful war against the Greeks. The more ignorant 
among the clerical teachers objected to any widening of 
the old studies, and resented the substitution of biblica! 
or patristic theology for the study of the schoolmen. 
They dreaded the effects of the critical method, and were 


not reassured when Grocyn, in a sermon at St. Paul's 
Cathedral, declared that the writings attributed to 
Dionysius the Areopagite were spurious. A wave of 
obscurantism swept over Oxford, and, as Tyndale puts it, 
"the barking curs, Dun's disciples, the children of dark- 
ness, raged in every pulpit against Greek, Latin, and 
Hebrew." Wolsey used the king's authority to rebuke 
the assailants of learning; but the new teachers withdrew 
from Oxford, and "Wolsey saw that if the new learning 
was to make way it must have a secure footing. Ac- 
cordingly he set himself to get the universities into his 
power, and in 1517 proposed to found university lecture- 
ships in Oxford. Hitherto the teaching given in the 
universities had been voluntary; teachers arose and 
maintained themselves by a process of natural selection. 
Excellent as such a system may seem, it did not lead to 
progress, and already the Lady Margaret, Countess of 
Richmond, Henry VII. 7 s mother, had adopted the ad- 
vice of Bishop Fisher, and founded divinity professor- 
ships in the two universities. Wolsey wished to 
extend this system and organise an entire staff of 
teachers for university purposes. We do not know how 
far he showed his intention, but such was his influence 
that Oxford submitted its statutes to him for revision. 
Wolsey's hands were too full of other work for him to 
undertake at once so delicate a matter ; but he meant 
undoubtedly to reorganise the system of university 
education, and for this purpose prevailed on Cambridge 
also to entrust its statutes to his hands. Again he had 
prepared the way for a great undertaking, and had dex- 
terously used his position to remove all obstacles, and pre- 
pare a field for the work of reconstruction. Again he was 



prevented from carrying out his designs, and his educa- 
tional reform was never actually made. "We can only 
trace his intentions in the fact that he brought to 
Oxford a learned Spaniard, Juan Luis Vives, to lecture 
on rhetoric, and we may infer that he intended to 
provide both universities with a staff of teachers chosen 
from the first scholars of Europe^ 

Another matter gives another indication of Wolsey's 
desire to remove the grievances felt against the Church. 
If the monasteries were survivals of a time when the 
Church discharged the humanitarian duties of society, 
the ecclesiastical courts were in a like manner survivals 
of a time when the civil courts were not yet able to 
deal with many points which concerned the relations 
between man and man, or which regulated individual 
conduct. Thus marriage was a religious ceremony, and 
all questions which arose from the marriage contract 
were decided in the ecclesiastical courts. Similarly wills 
were recognised by the Church, as resting on the moral 
basis of mutual confidence, long before the State was pre- 
pared to acknowledge their validity. Besides these 
cases which arose from contract, the Church exercised a 
disciplinary supervision over its members for the good ol 
their souls, and to avoid scandals in a Christian com- 
munity. On all these points the principles of the Church 
had leavened the conceptions of the State, and the civil 
jurisdiction had in many matters overtaken the ecclesias- 
tical. But the clerical courts stood stubbornly upon 
their claim to greater antiquity, and the activity of 
ecclesiastical lawyers found plenty of work to do. Dis- 
ciplinary jurisdiction was unduly extended by a class of 
trained officials, and was resented by the growing inde- 


pendence of the rising middle class. No doubt the 
ecclesiastical courts needed reform, but the difficulties in 
the way of reforming legal procedure are always great. 
Wolsey faced the problem in a way which is most 
characteristic of his statesmanship. He strove to bring 
the question to maturity for solution by getting the^ 
control of the ecclesiastical courts into his own hands. 
For this purpose he used his exceptional position as 
Papal Legate, and instituted a legatine court which should 
supersede the ordinary jurisdiction. Naturally "enough 
this brought him into collision with Archbishop Warham, 
and his fall prevented him from developing his policy. 
His attempt only left the ecclesiastical courts in worse 
confusion, and added to the strength of the oppo- 
sition, which soon robbed them of most of their powers. 
It added also to Wolsey's unpopularity, and gave a 
shadow of justice to the unworthy means which were 
used for his destruction. 

In fact, wherever we look, we see that in domestic 
affairs Wolsey had a clear conception of the objects to be 
immediately pursued by a conservative reformer. But a 
conservative reformer raises as much hostility as does a 
revolutionist, for the mass of men are not sufficiently 
foreseeing or sufficiently disinterested willingly to abandon 
profitable abuses. They feel less animosity against 
the open enemy who aims avowedly at their destruction, 
than against the seeming friends who would deprive 
them of what they consider to be their rights.1 The 
clergy submitted more readily to the abolition of their 
privileges by the king than they would have submitted 
to a reform at the hands of Wolsey. J They could under- 
stand the one; they could not MKierstand the other 


This was natural, for Wolsey had no lofty principles 
to set before them ; he had only the wisdom of a keen- 
sighted statesman, who read the signs of the times. 
Indeed he did not waste his time in trying to persuade 
others to see with his eyes. He could not have ventured 
to speak out and say that the Church must choose between 
the tender mercies of the royal power and submission to 
the discretion of one who, standing between the king 
and the Pope, was prepared to throw a semblance of 
ecclesiastical recognition over reforms which were inevit- 
able. It is clear that Wolsey was working for the one 
possible compromise, and he hoped to effect it by his own 
dexterity. Secure of the royal favour, secure through his 
political importance of the papal acquiescence in the use 
which he made of his legatine power, standing forward 
as the chief ecclesiastic in England, he aimed at accom- 
plishing such reforms as would have brought into har 
mony the relations between Church and State. He did 
not hope to do this by persuasion, but by power, and had 
taken steps to lay his hand cautiously on different parts 
of the ecclesiastical organisation. "With this idea before 
him we may safely acquit Wolsey of any undue ambition 
for the papal office ; he doubted whether his influence 
would be increased or not by its possession. 

In everything that Wolsey did he played for the 
highest stakes, and risked all upon the hope of ultimate 
success. He trusted to justify himself in the long-run, 
and was heedless of the opposition which he called forth. 
Besting solely upon the royal favour, he did not try to 
conciliate, nor did he pause to explain. Men could not 
understand his ends, but they profoundly disliked his 
means. The suppression of small monasteries, which 


might be useless but served to provide for younger sons 
or dependants of country families, was very unpopular, 
as coming from a cardinal who enjoyed the revenues of 
many ecclesiastical offices whose duties he did not dis- 
charge. The setting up of a legatine court was hateful 
to the national sentiment of Englishmen, who saw in it 
only another engine of ecclesiastical oppression. The 
pomp and magnificence wherewith Wolsey asserted a great- 
ness which he mainly valued as a means of doing his 
country service, was resented as the vulgar arrogance of 
an upstart. Wolsey's ideas were too great to pay any 
heed to the prejudices of Englishmen which, after all, 
have determined the success of all English ministers, and 
which no English statesman has ever been powerful 
enough to disregard. 



IF Wolsey hoped that tlie peace with France, which he 
had so successfully concluded in the beginning of 1527, 
would enable him to reassert England's influence on the 
Continent, and would give him an opportunity for the 
work of domestic reform, he was sorely disappointed. A 
new matter arose, not entirely unexpected, but which 
widened into unexpected issues, and consumed "Wolsey's 
energies till it led to his fall. The project of the king's 
divorce was suddenly mooted ; and this personal matter, 
before it was ripe for settlement, gradually drew into its 
sphere all the questions concerning England's foreign 
and domestic policy which Wolsey's statesmanship had 
been trying to solve by wise and well-considered means. 
Wolsey had been gathering into his hands the threads of 
a complicated policy, each one of which required dex- 
terous handling, in accordance with a great design. He 
found himself suddenly called upon to act precipitately 
for the accomplishment of a small matter, which brought 
all the difficulties of his position prominently forward, 
and gave him no time for that skilful diplomacy in 


which he excelled. Moreover, when the project was 
started neither Henry nor Woisey could have foreseen 
the complications which would arise ; still less could 
Woisey have known the obstinacy which the faintest 
opposition to the royal will would develop in the king, 
or the extent to which he could persuade himself that 
the satisfaction of the royal pleasure was the sole purpose 
of the existence of the power of the State. At first 
Henry had sympathised with Wolsey's far-reaching 
schemes. Latterly he had at all events "been willing to 
allow Woisey to have his own way on the whole. The 
time came when he showed himself a hard taskmaster, 
and demanded that Woisey should at all costs satisfy his 
personal desires in a matter which he persuaded himself 
was all-important to the nation at large. 

Viewed according to the general notions of the time, 
there was nothing very surprising in the fact that Henry 
VIII. should wish for a divorce. Eoyal marriages were 
made and unmade from motives of expediency ; it was 
only a question of obtaining a decent plea. The sons 
of Katharine had died in infancy, and Mary was the only 
heir of the English throne ; it was a matter of importance 
to the future of England that the succession to the 
throne should be clearly established. If Henry had 
remained attached to his wife this consideration would 
not have been put forward ; but Henry was never famed 
for constancy. He was in the prime of life, while 
Katharine was over forty. He had developed in char- 
acter, not for the better, while she remained true to the 
narrow traditions of her early training. She was an 
excellent housewife, conscientious, decorous, and capable; 
but she was devoted to the political interests of Spain, 


and admired her nephew Charles. While the imperial 
alliance was warmly pursued by Henry she was 
happy ; when Henry's zeal for Charles began to 
fade she felt offended, and was not judicious in the 
display of her political bias. Henry was more and more 
annoyed by his wife's discontent, and the breach between 
them rapidly widened. When Henry broke with 
Charles and allied himself with France he seems to 
have felt that his domestic peace was at an end, and he 
was not the man to shrink from the effort to re-establish 
it upon another basis. 

Perhaps none of these considerations would have 
moved Henry to take prompt action if his desires 
had not been kindled by a new object of his affection. 
He had not been a faithful husband, and Katharine seems 
to have been indulgent to his infidelities. In the course 
of 1526 he was captivated by the charms of Anne Boleyn, 
as he had formerly been captivated by her sister Mary, 
But Anne had learned that the king was fickle, and she 
resolved that she would not be so easily won as to be 
lightly abandoned. She skilfully managed to make her- 
self agreeable to the king till his passion for her became 
so violent that he was prepared to accept her terms and 
make her his lawful wife. 

Wolsey was not in favour of this plan ; but he was 
not opposed to getting rid of the political influence 
of Katharine, and he believed that the king's fancy 
for Anne Boleyn would rapidly pass away. Whatever 
his own personal opinion might be, he did not venture 
to gainsay the king in a matter on which he was resolved, 
and he lent himself to be an instrument in a matter 
which involved him in measures which became more and 


more discreditable. The first idea of the king was to 
declare his marriage with Katharine unlawful, on the 
ground that she had previously been his brother's wife ; 
but he was cognisant of that when he married her and 
had applied for a papal dispensation to remedy that 
source of invalidity. Doubtless some plea might be 
discovered to enable the Pope to set aside the dispensa- 
tion granted by Ms predecessor. But whatever technical 
grounds might be used to justify the Pope's decision in 
the king's favour, the Pope could not be expected to act 
in such a manner as to offend the Powers of Europe and 
shock the moral sense of Englishmen. Wolsey did not 
hide from himself that there were three hindrances in 
the way of legalising the king's divorce. The opinion 
of England was not in its favour ;|Charles V. was likely 
to resent the affront which it woulcTput upon his aunt, 
and the Pope could not afford to alienate one who was 
becoming all-powerful in Italy that he might win the 
distant friendship of the English king; Francis L had 
just made a treaty with Henry VIII, by which the hand 
of Mary had been promised to his son, and he was not 
likely to wish to see Mary declared to be illegitimate] 
These were serious elements of opposition, which at 
would require considerable skill to overcome. 

The first measure which suggested itself to Henry and 
Wolsey was to put the king's plea into shape, and endorse 
it with the authority of the English Church. For this 
purpose a suit was secretly instituted against the king 
in Wolsey's legatine court. Henry was solemnly in- 
formed that a complaint had been made to Wolsey, as 
censor of public morals, that he had cohabited for 
eighteen years with his brother's wife. Henry consented 


that Archbishop Warham should be joined with Wolsey 
as assessor, and named a proctor who should plead his 
cause. Three sessions of this court were held with the 
profoundest secrecy in May; but in spite of all the 
attempts at secrecy the imperial ambassador discovered 
what was going on. The object of this procedure seems 
to have been to produce a sentence from the legate's 
court in England which should be confirmed by the 
Pope without right of appeal. If the Pope had been 
a free agent he might conceivably have adopted this 
course ; but the news soon reached England that Rome 
had been sacked by Bourbon, and that the Pope was 
trembling before Charles Y. In this turn of affairs it 
was useless to proceed farther on the supposition that 
he would unhesitatingly comply with the wishes of 
Henry and Wolsey. A court sitting in secret would 
have no influence on English opinion, and Wolsey pro- 
posed that its sittings should be suspended, and the 
opinions of the English bishops be taken as a means of 
educating public opinion. 

But Katharine had been informed of the king's inten- 
tions concerning her, and showed a purpose of defending 
her rights. It would be very awkward if she were the 
first to make the matter public, and were to appeal to 
the Pope or her kinsman Charles. The question would 
then become a political question, and Henry was not 
prepared with allies. So on 22d June the king broached 
his difficulties to Katharine. He told her of his scruples, 
and of his intentions of submitting them to the deci- 
sion of canonists and theologians ; meanwhile they had 
better live apart. Katharine burst into tears, and the 
king vaguely tried to assure her that all was being dona 


for the best, and begged her to keep the matter secret. 
His only object was to prevent her from taking any 
open steps till he had assured himself of the countenance 
of the French king to his plans. For this purpose 
"Wolsey was sent on an embassy, ostensibly to settle 
some questions raised by the French treaty, really to 
concert with Francis I. a scheme for bringing to bear 
upon the Pope a pressure which should be strong enough 
to counteract the iniluence of Charles Y. So, on 3d July, 
"Wolsey left London on his last diplomatic mission. Men 
who saw Wolsey set out with more than his accustomed 
state, escorted by nine hundred horsemen, thought, doubt- 
less, that the cardinal's greatness was as high as ever ; 
but those who watched more closely saw him in the 
splendid ceremonial of the Church of Canterbury " weep 
very tenderly," for his mind was ill at ease. He must 
have felt that he was going to use his talents for a bad 
end, and that all patriotism and nobility had vanished 
from his aim. On his way to Dover he had a conference 
with Archbishop "Warham, whom he instructed about 
the conduct to be observed towards the queen. Then 
at Rochester he sounded Bishop Fisher, the most holy 
and upright of the English bishops, who had already 
been asked by Katharine to give her counsel, though 
she had not ventured to tell him what was the subject 
on which she wished for his advice. So "Wolsey told 
his own story; that the king's conscience was dis- 
quiet, and that he wished to have his scruples set at 
rest by the opinions of learned men. He represented 
that Katharine by her hastiness was throwing difficulties 
in the way of the king's considerate procedure, and 
threatened to publish the matter, and so create an open 


scandal Fisher believed Wolsey's tale, and was beguiled 
into a belief of the king's good intentions, which 
the queen could not understand. About the validity of 
Henry's marriage Wolsey could not get from Fisher an 
opinion contrary to the authority of a papal dispensa- 
tion ; but he contrived to alienate Fisher from sym- 
path} 7 - with Katharine, and so left the queen without a 
friend while he proceeded to machinate against her in 

We have from one of Wolsey's attendants, George 
Cavendish, his gentleman - usher, a full account of 
Wolsey's journey in France. On one point he gives 
as valuable insight into Wolsey's character where 
Wolsey has been much misrepresented. He tells us 
how at Calais he summoned his attendants and ad- 
dressed them about their behaviour. He explained 
that the services which he required from them were not 
personal but official, and his words were those of a 
statesman who understood, but did not over-estimate, the 
value of external things. "Ye shall understand," he 
said, "that the king's majesty, upon certain weighty 
considerations, hath for the more advancement of his 
royal dignity assigned me in this journey to be his 
lieutenant-general, and what reverence belongeth to the 
same I will tell you. That for my part I must, by 
virtue of my commission of lieutenantship, assume and 
take upon me, in all honours and degrees, to have all 
such service and reverence as to his highness's presence 
is meet and due, and nothing thereof to be neglected or 
omitted by me that to his royal estate is appurtenant. 
And for my part, ye shall see me that I will not omit 
one jot thereof." Then he added some wise advice 


about the courtesies to be observed in their intercourse 
with the French. 

When matters of etiquette had thus been arranged, 
Wolsey rode out of Calais on 22d July, and pursued his 
journey to Abbeville, where he awaited the arrival of 
Francis I. at Amiens. On 4th August he entered Amiens, 
and was received with royal honours. His interviews 
with Francis and the queen-mother were most satis- 
factory on matters of general policy: the English 
alliance was firmly accepted, and all questions between 
the two Crowns were in a fair way towards settlement. 
Wolsey waited till the political alliance was firmly es- 
tablished before he broached the personal matter of the 
divorce. Meanwhile he meditated on the schemes which 
might be pursued by the allied kings to satisfy 
Henry's desires. He proposed that they should join in 
demanding from Charles V. that he should restore the 
Pope's independencej in the hope that the Pope when 
freed from constraint would be willing to show his 
gratitude by complying with Henry's demands. If 
they failed in procuring the Pope's release, they should 
declare the papal power to be in abeyance, and summon 
the cardinals to meet at Avignon, where, under Wolsey's 
presidency, they should transact such business as the 
Pope in his captivity was unable to discharge. 

Either of these methods was technically decorous; 
but they did not much commend themselves to Henry 
VIII., whose passion for Anne Boleyn daily increased, 
and who was impatient of any procedure that involved 
delay. So Henry listened coldly to Wolsey's proposals 
for a "sure, honourable, and safe" termination of the 
"king's matter," as the divorce was now called; he 


wished for a " good and brief conclusion," and gave eat 
to the advice of Anne Boleyn and her friends. It was 
easy for them to point out that Wolsey was an old- 
fashioned statesman, full of prejudice where the Church 
was concerned. They urged that the king could do 
better for himself, and could deal more expeditiously 
with the Pope than could a churchman who was bound 
to adopt a humble attitude towards his ecclesiastical 
superior. So Henry determined to take the matter 
into his own hands, and send his secretary Knight to 
negotiate with the Pope without Wolsey's intervention. 
Wolsey, meanwhile, in ignorance of the King's inten- 
tions, but distressed at the difficulties which he foresaw, 
followed the French Court to Compiegne, where he 
divided his time between diplomatic conflicts, festivities, 
and the despatch of business. One morning, Cavendish 
tells us, " He rose early about four of the clock, sitting 
down to write letters into England unto the king, com- 
manding one of his chaplains to prepare him to mass, 
insomuch that the said chaplain stood revested until 
four of the clock at afternoon; all which season my 
lord never rose once even to eat any meat, but continu- 
ally wrote his letters, with his own hands, having all 
that time his nightcap and kerchief on his head. And 
about the hour of four of the clock, at afternoon, he 
made an end of writing, and commanded one Christopher 
Gunner, the king's servant, to prepare him without 
delay to ride empost into England with his letters, 
whom he despatched away or ever he drank. And that 
done he went to mass, and said his other divine service 
with his chaplain, as he was accustomed to do ; and then 
went straight into a garden ; and after he had walked 


the space of an hour or more, and said his evensong, he 
went to dinner and supper all at once ; and making a 
small repast, he went to his bed, to take his rest for the 

While Wolsey was thus labouring in this thorny 
matter, he received a visit from Knight on his way to 
Rome. Knight's instructions were to demand from the 
Pope a dispensation for Henry to marry again before 
the divorce from Katharine had been pronounced ; fail- 
ing this, to marry immediately after his marriage with 
Katharine was declared invalid. Further, he was to 
ask the Pope to issue a bull delegating his spiritual 
authority to Cardinal Wolsey during his captivity. No 
doubt this was an expeditious way to cut existing diffi- 
culties ; but it was too expeditious to suit the traditions 
of the Papal Court. Its obvious clumsiness showed that 
it was not the work of Wolsey's hand; and it was 
unwise for the king to inform the Pope that he was 
trying to act without Wolsey's knowledge. 

Though Wolsey was left in ignorance of the nature 
of Knight's instructions, he could not but suspect that 
the king was acting without his full knowledge. He 
finished his work at Compiegne and returned to England 
at the end of September. He at once repaired to the 
Court at- Eichmond, and sent to tell the king of his 
arrival. Hitherto the king had always retired to a 
private room when he received the cardinal alone. 
Now Anne Boleyn was with the king in the great 
hall, and scarcely had Wolsey's message been delivered 
than she broke in, " Where else should the cardinal 
come than here where the king is 1 ?" The king con- 
firmed her command, and Wolsey found himself ushered 


into the hall, where Henry sat amusing himself with 
Anne and his favourites. Serious talk was out of the 
question. Wolsey was no longer first in the king's 
confidence. He went away feeling that Anne Boleyn 
was his political rival, whom he could only overcome by 
serving better than she could serve herself. *\ Henceforth 
he had two masters instead of one, and he did not deceive 
himself that the continuance of his power depended 
solely on his usefulness in the matter of the divorce. / 

As "Wolsey showed himself compliant, Anne Boleyn 
treated him graciously while she waited to hear the 
result of Knight's mission to Borne. It was not easy 
for him to enter the city, which was in possession of the 
Spaniards, and when he entered it he could not hold 
any personal communication with Clement VII. 3 who was 
shut up in the Castle of St. Angelo. On 9th December 
Clement escaped to Orvieto, where Knight soon joined 
him, and showed his incapacity for the work which had 
been confided to him by revealing to the papal officials 
the whole details of the matter, which he ought to 
have kept secret. Clement saw at once the value of 
Henry's conscientious scruples, and learned that he was 
moved solely by a desire to marry Anne Boleyn, a 
connection which could not be excused by any paramount 
reasons of political expediency. However anxious the 
Pope might be to oblige the English king, there were 
limits to his complacency, and Knight had not the wits 
to cast a fair appearance over a disgraceful matter. Yet 
Clement did not wish to offend Henry by refusing 
his request at once. The demand for a dispensation 
empowering the king to marry at once had already 
been dropped at Wolsey's instance. Knight carried 


with him a form of dispensation allowing Henry to 
marry as soon as his marriage with Katharine was dis- 
solved. This form was amended by one of the car- 
dinals, and was signed by the Pope. Knight started 
back to England, convinced that he had done his business 
excellently, and was bearing to the king the permission 
which he desired. 

When the documents were placed in Wolsey's hands 
he saw at once that they were worthless. "What Henry 
wanted was permission for Wolsey to decide the ques- 
tion in the Pope's behalf, and permission for himself to 
act at once as soon as Wolsey's decision was pronounced. 
The documents which he received did not bar Katha- 
rine's right of appeal; consequently Wolsey's decision 
would be of no effect, and the king could not lawfully 
marry again pending the appeal. In fact, the Pope 
reserved the entire decision of the matter in his own 

It was a small matter for Wolsey to triumph over a 
man like Knight ; but Knight's failure showed Henry 
and Anne Boleyn that they must put their confidence in 
Wolsey after all. So in February 1528 Wolsey had to 
begin again from the beginning, and had to undo the 
mischief which Knight's bungling had made- He chose 
as his agents his secretary, Stephen Gardiner, and 
Edward Foxe, one of the king's chaplains. They were 
instructed to ask that the Pope would join with Wolsey 
some special legate, and give them power to pronounce a 
final judgment. For this purpose they were to plead 
Henry's cause with all earnestness, and say that the king 
was moved only by the scruples of his conscience; at the 
same time they were to praise the virtues of Anne 



Boleyn, and say that the king was solely moved by con- 
siderations of Ms duty to his country in his desire to 
marry her. Further, they were to insist on the dis- 
honour which would he done to the Holy See if the 
Pope, through fear of Charles V., were to refuse to do 
justice. If the king could not obtain justice from the 
Pope he would be compelled to seek it elsewhere, and 
live outside the laws of Holy Church ; and however re- 
luctant, he would he driven to this for the quiet of his 

Truly these pleas were sorely contradictory. Henry 
was ready to acknowledge to the fullest extent the papal 
power of granting dispensations, and was ready to sub- 
mit to the justice of the Pope as the highest justice upon 
earth. But this was solely on condition that the Pope 
gave decision according to his wishes. \JBfe regarded the 
Papacy as an excellent institution so long as it was on 
his own side.^; If it refused to see the justice of his 
pleas, then he fell back as strenuously as did Luther on 
the necessity of satisfying his own conscience, and to do 
so he was ready, if need were, to break with the Church. 
Truly the movement in Germany had affected public 
opinion more than was supposed when Wolsey could 
hold such language to the Pope. He did not know what 
a terrible reality that curious conscience of Henry would 
become. His words were a truer prophecy than he 

However, this line of argument was stubbornly pur- 
sued by Gardiner even in the Pope's presence. Clement 
at Orvieto was not surrounded by the pomp and 
splendour customary to his office. The English envoys 
found him in a little room, seated on a wooden bench 


which was covered with, "an old coverlet not worth 
twenty pence." But he did not see his way to a restora- 
tion of his dignity by an unhesitating compliance with 
the demands of the English king ; on the other hand, 
the mere fact that his fortunes had sunk so low de- 
manded greater circumspection. He was not likely to 
escape from dependence on Charles V. by making him- 
self the tool of Francis I. and Henry VIII. ; such a pro- 
ceeding would only lead to the entire destruction of the 
papal authority, j Its restoration must be achieved by 
holding the balance between the opposing Powers of 
Europe, and Henry VIII. 's desire for a divorce gave the 
Pope an opportunity of showing that he was still a per- 
sonage of some importance. ! Dynastic questions still 
depended on his decree, and he could use Henry's 
application as a means of showing Charles that he 
had something to fear from the Papacy, and that it 
was his policy to make the Papacy friendly to himself. 
So Clement resolved to adopt a congenial course of 
temporising, in the hope that he might see Ms advantage 
in some turn of affairs. No doubt he thought that 
Henry's matter would soon settle itself ; either his passion, 
for Anne Boleyn would pass away, or he would make 
her Ms mistress. The stubbornness of Henry, his strange 
hold upon formal morality while pursuing an immoral 
course of conduct, his imperious self-will, which grew by 
opposition these were incalculable elements which might 
have upset the plans of wiser men than Clement VII 

So the Pope acted the part of the good simple man 
who wishes to do what is right. He lamented his own 
ignorance, and proposed to consult those who were more 
learned in canon law than himself. When Gardiner 


said that England asked nothing but justice, and if it 
were refused would be driven to think that God had taken 
away from the Holy See the key of knowledge, and 
would begin to adopt the opinion of those who thought 
that pontifical laws, which were not clear to the 
Pope himself, might well be committed to the flames, 
Clement sighed, and suggested a compromise. Then he 
added, with a smile, that though canonists said "the 
Pope has all laws in the cabinet of his breast," yet God 
had not given him the key to open that cabinet ; he 
could only consult his cardinals. 

Gardiner's outspoken remonstrances were useless 
against one who pleaded an amiable incompetence. 
Against the churnings of Henry's conscience Clement 
set up the churnings of his own conscience, and no 
one could gainsay the Pope's right to a conscience aa 
much as the English king. After pursuing this course 
during the month of March the Pope at length with 
sighs and tears devised a compromise, in which he feared 
that he had outstepped the bounds of discretion. He 
accepted one of the documents which the English envoys 
had brought, the permission for the king to marry whom 
he would as soon as his marriage with Katharine had 
been dissolved. He altered the terms of the other 
document, which provided for the appointment of a com- 
mission with plenary powers to pronounce on the validity 
of the king's marriage ; he granted the commission, but 
did not give it plenary power ; at the same time he chose 
as the commissioner who was to sit with Wolsey Cardinal 
Campeggio, who was the protector of England in the 
Papal Court, and who was rewarded for his services by 
holding the bishopric of Hereford. In this way he 


showed every mark of goodwill to Henry short of ac- 
quiescing entirely in the procedure which he proposed ; 
but he kept the final decision of the matter in his own 

Gardiner was not wholly pleased with this result of 
his skill and firmness : after all his efforts to obtain a 
definite solution the Pope had managed to escape from 
giving any binding promise. Still, Foxe put a good 
face on Gardiner's exploits when he returned to England 
in the end of April. Henry and Anne Boleyn were 
delighted, and Wolsey, though he was more dissatisfied 
than Gardiner, thought it best to be hopeful. He tried 
to bind the Pope more firmly, and instructed Gardiner 
to press that the law relating to Henry's case should be 
laid down in a papal decretal, so that the legates should 
only have to determine the question of fact ; this decretal 
he promised to keep entirely secret; besides this, he urged 
that there should be no delay in sending Campeggio. 

During these months of expectancy Wolsey conde- 
scended to ingratiate himself with Anne Boleyn, who had 
become a political personage of the first importance. 
Anne was sure of Wolsey's devotion to her interests so 
long as they were also the king's, and could not dispense 
with Wolsey's skill. So she was kindly, and wrote 
friendly letters to Wolsey, and asked for little gifts of 
tunny-fish and shrimps. The English Court again 
resembled an amiable family party, whose members 
were all of one mind. In the course of the summer 
they were all thrown into terror by an outbreak 
of the "Sweating Sickness," which devastated the 
country. Anne Boleyn was attacked, though not 
severely; and Henry showed that his devotion to her 


did not proceed to the length of risking his own precious 
life for her sake. He fled to Waltham, and Anne was 
left with her father ; Henry protested by letter his un- 
alterable affection, but kept out of harm's way till all 
risk of infection was past. At the same time he showed 
great solicitude for Wolsey's health, as did also Anne 
Boleyn. It seemed as though Wolsey were never more 
useful or more highly esteemed. 

Yet, strangely enough, this outbreak of the plague 
drew upon Wolsey the most significant lesson which he 
had yet received of his OWE real position and of Henry's 
resoluteness to brook no check upon his royal will. 
Amongst others who perished in the sickness was the 
Abbess of "Wilton, and Anne Boleyn wished that the 
vacant office should be given to one of the nuns of the 
abbey, Eleanor Carey, sister of William Carey, who had 
married Anne's sister Mary. Wolsey was informed of 
the wishes of Anne and of the king on this point ; but 
on examination found that Eleanor's life and character 
were not such as to fit her for the office. He therefore 
proposed to confer it on the prioress, Isabella Jordan. 
It would seem, however, that Eleanor's friends were 
determined to efface in some degree the scandal which 
their unwise haste had occasioned, and they retaliated 
by spreading reports injurious to the character of the 
prioress. Wolsey did not believe these reports ; but 
Anne Boleyn and the king agreed that if their nominee 
was to be set aside, the cardinal's nominee should be set 
aside likewise, and Wolsey was informed of the king's 
decision. Perhaps Wolsey failed to understand the 
secret motives which were at work ; perhaps he had so 
far committed himself before receiving the king's mes- 


sage that he could not well go back ; perhaps he consci- 
entiously did what he thought right. Anyhow, he 
appointed Isabella Jordan, and sent her appointment to 
the king for confirmation ; further, he gave as his excuse 
that he had not understood the king's will in the matter. 
To his extreme surprise and mortification the king 
took the opportunity thus afforded of reading him a 
lecture on his -presumption, and reminding him that he 
was expected to render implicit obedience. Matters 
were no longer arranged between Henry and Wolsey 
alone ; Anne Boleyn was a third party, and the king's 
pride was engaged in showing her that his word was 
lawi_ When Henry took his pen in hand he assumed 
the mantle of royal dignity, and he now gave Wolsey a 
sample of the royal way of putting things which was so 
effectual in his later dealings with his Parliament. He 
began by assuring Wolsey that the great love he bore 
him led him to apply the maxim, " Whom I love I 
chasten ; " he spoke therefore not in displeasure but for 
Wolsey's good. He could not but be displeased that 
Wolsey had acted contrary to his orders , he was the 
more displeased that Wolsey had pleaded ignorance as 
an excuse for his disobedience. He overwhelmed him 
with quotations from his letters on the subject, and went 
on, "Ah, my lord, it is a double offence both to do ill 
and colour it too; but with men that have wit it cannot'be 
accepted so. Wherefore, good my lord, use no more that 
way with me, for there is no man living that more hateth 
it." He then went on to tell Wolsey that there were many 
rumours current about the means which he was employ- 
ing to raise money from religious houses for the founda- 
tion of his new colleges ; he told him this because " I 


dare be "bolder with you than many that mumble it 
abroad." He showed that he had not forgotten the 
refusal of the monasteries to help in the Amicable 
Grant : why should they now give money to Wolsey un- 
less they had some interested motive in doing so 1 He 
advised Wolsey to look closely into the matter, and 
ended, " I pray you, my lord, think not that it is upon 
any displeasure that I write this unto you. For surely 
it is for my discharge afore God, being in the room that 
I am in ; and secondly, for the great zeal I bear unto 
you, not undeserved on your behalf. Wherefore, I 
pray you, take it so; and I assure you, your fault 
acknowledged, there shall remain in me no spark of dis- 
pleasure; trusting hereafter you shall recompense that 
with a thing much more acceptable to me." 

This letter came upon Wolsey as a sudden revelation 
of his true position. It showed him the reality of all the 
vague doubts and fears which he had for some time been 
striving to put from him. He was crushed into abject- 
ness, which he did not even strive to conceal from others. 
He took the immediate matters of complaint seriously 
to heart, and wished to annul the appointment of Isa- 
bella Jordan, which the king ruled to be unnecessary ; 
on that point he was satisfied with having asserted a 
principle. But he advised Wolsey to receive no more 
gifts for his colleges from religious houses, and Wolsey 
promised not to do so. " Thereby I trust, nor by any 
other thing hereafter unlawfully taken, your pooi 
cardinal's conscience shall not be spotted, encumbered, 
or entangled; purposing, with God's help and your 
gracious favour, so to order the rest of my poor life that 
it shall appear to your Highness that I love and dread 


God and also your Majesty." This was a lamentable 
prostration of the moral authority of the chief churchman 
in England before the king, and showed Wolsey's weak- 
ness. He knew that he had not demeaned himself as 
befitted his priestly office j and though he may have felt 
that no man in England had less right than the king to 
reprove his conduct on moral grounds, still he could not 
plead that he was above reproach'. In the particular 
matter of which he was accused extorting money from 
the religious houses in return for immunities granted in 
virtue of his legatine power there is no evidence that 
Wolsey was guilty. But he could not say that he had a 
conscience void of offence ; he had acted throughout his 
career as a statesman and a man of the world. If the 
king chose to hold him up to moral reprobation lie 
had no valid defence to offer. He had disregarded the 
criticisms of others that he might serve the king more 
faithfully ; but if the king took upon himself the office 
of critic he had nothing ,to urge. It was because Henry 
had taken the measure of churchmen such as Wolsey 
that he ventured in later times to hold such lofty lan- 
guage in addressing the clergy. Henry was always superior 
to the weakness of imagining that his own conduct 
needed any defence, or his own motives any justification. 
Wolsey, though forgiven with royal graciousness, 
was profoundly depressed, and could not recover his 
sense j)|_^asiiiigL. The future was to him big with 
menaces, and perhaps he looked most sadly upon his 
designs which yet remained unrealised. He saw that his 
activity must henceforth work in a smaller sphere, and 
that he must make haste to finish what he had on hand. 
The ugly business of the divorce looked to him still uglier. 


Either lie would fail in his efforts to move the Pope, 
in which case he lost his hold upon the king at once, or, 
if he succeeded, he saw that the reign of Anne Boleyn 
meant the end of his own uncontested influence^. The 
king's letter was at least significant of that : he would 
never have raised a question about so trivial a matter if 
he had not wished to justify his absolute power in the 
eyes of one who was to him all-important. 

So "Wblsey faced the future ; he put his aspirations 
on a lower level, and wished only to garner certainly 
some of the fruits of his life-long labour. He told the 
French ambassador, Du Bellay, " that if G-od permitted 
him to see the hatred of these two nations (France and 
England) extinguished, and firm amity established, as 
he hopes it will shortly be, with a reform of the laws 
and customs of the country, such as he would effect if 
peace were made, and the succession of the kingdom 
assured, especially if this marriage took place, and an 
heir male were born of it, he would at once retire, and 
serve God for the rest of his life ; and that, without any 
doubt, on the first honourable occasion he could find, he 
would give up politics." Doubtless Wolsey was genuine 
in these utterances, and felt that he was resigning much 
when he reduced his designs within the limits which he 
here set forth. But limited as they were, they still con- 
tained an entire scheme for the reconstruction of English 
politics. "Wolsey's plans remained complete, however 
much he might be willing to reduce them ; he was in- 
capable of being a mere attendant upon chance. 

For the present he was awaiting with growing anxiety 
the coming of Cardinal Campeggio, which was delayed, 
according to the Pope's policy of procrastination. First 


the cardinal had to contend against the difficulties created 
by the disorderly state of Italy ; then he was delayed by 
an attack of the gout, which made his movements slow ; 
and he did not reach London till 8th October. When 
he came he was not prepared to act at once, nor did he 
treat "Wblsey as an equal but rather as a subordinate in 
the work of the commission. In fact, Campeggio behaved 
as judge, and Wolsey as the king's advocate. Oam- 
peggio's instructions were first to try and persuade the 
king to lay aside his purpose of a divorce. He soon saw 
that this was useless, and Wolsey plainly warned him 
with prophetic instinct. "Most reverend lord, beware 
lest, in like manner as the greater part of Germany, 
owing to the harshness and severity of a certain cardinal, 
has become estranged from the Apostolic See and the 
faith, it should be said that another cardinal has given 
the same occasion to England, with the same result." 

Failing to shake the king's determination, the next 
course which Campeggio was ordered to pursue was to 
persuade the queen to comply with the king's wishes. 
Katharine was still treated with outward respect, but was 
cut off from all friends and advisers, and subjected to a 
secret and galling persecution. Still she maintained a 
resolute spirit, and withstood the pleadings of Wolsey 
and Campeggio, who urged her to give way and with- 
draw to a monastery, for the quieting of the king's 
conscience. Katharine replied that there was nothing of 
which his conscience need be afraid, and that she in- 
tended "to live and die in the estate of matrimony to 
which God had called her." The obstinacy of Katharine 
was as invincible as the obstinacy of Henry ; and Kath- 
arine had right on her side. 


Nothing remained save for the legates to proceed to 
the trial of the case; and in the trial Campeggio's 
instructions bade him procrastinate to the utmost in 
hopes the king might give way before the long delay. 
Wolsey had foreseen this possibility when he demanded 
that Campeggio should bring with him a decretal de- 
fining the law as applicable to the case. This decretal 
Campeggio was instructed to show the king, but keep in 
his own hands, so that it was useless for Wolsey's pur- 
pose. His first object was to get hold of this decretal, 
and he wrote urgently to the Pope asking that it should 
be delivered into the king's hands, and shown to the 
Privy Council. "Without the Pope's compliance," he 
sadly wrote, " I cannot bear up against this storm." But 
Clement YII. felt that he was more dependent on Charles 
V. than on Henry VIII, and declared that he had granted 
the decretal merely to be shown to the king and then 
burned ; he had never consented that it be shown to the 
king's counsellors. When he was further pressed he 
tossed his arms and said, with great agitation, "I do 
consider the ruin that hangs over me ; I repent what I 
have done. If heresies arise, is it my fault 1 My con- 
science acquits me. None of you have any reason to 
complain. I have performed my promise, and the king 
and the cardinal have never asked anything in my power 
which I have not granted with the utmost readiness ; but 
I will do no violence to my conscience. Let them, if 
they like, send the legate back again, on the pretext that 
he will not proceed in the cause, and then do as they 
please, provided they do not make me responsible for 

Here the Pope touched upon a noticeable feature of 


the case. Henry was bound upon a course which 
was neither legally nor morally right, though national 
Interests might to some degree be pleaded in its behalf. 
He was, however, resolved to be legally and morally 
justified in his own eyes and in the eyes of others. He 
would not content himself with setting aside the law, 
and leaving it to others to prove him in the wrong. The 
Papal Court was slow to justify him; it would have 
been slower to condemn him. Most men would have 
been satisfied with this knowledge, and would have 
acted upon it. But Henry was not only minded to do 
what he wished, but was resolved that what he wished 
should be declared absolutely right. He was determined 
that there should be no doubt about the legitimacy of 
his children by Anne Boleyn ; and some recognition ia 
due to him for not allowing his desires to overcome his 
patriotism, and leave to England the deplorable legacy 
of a disputed succession. As a man, Henry did not 
strive to subject his desires to the law of right ; as a 
king, he was bent upon justifying his own caprice so 
that it should not do hurt to his royal office, or offend 
his duty to his kingdom, Henry sinned, but he was 
bent on sinning royally, and believed that so he could 
extenuate his sin. 

'Not only was Oampeggio ordered not to part with 
the decretal, but he was bidden to destroy it. Mean- 
while a new feature of the case emerged. It became 
known that, besides the bull of dispensation granted to 
Henry TIL, an ampler brief had been issued in con- 
firmation of it to Ferdinand of Spain, of which the 
original was contained in the Spanish archives. Henry 
VIII. insisted on its production, in the hopes of destroy- 


ing it or casting doubts on its authenticity, and new 
negotiations were begun about this brief, which had the 
effect of wasting time and deferring the trial of the 
case. Further, on Clement VII. J s return to Borne in 
May he was attacked by illness, and his death was 
reported. Nothing could be done by the legates till 
they were assured of his recovery. 

Meanwhile Henry was growing more and more im- 
patient, and made it clear to Wolsey that if the pro- 
ceedings did not lead to Ms divorce all the blame would 
be laid at "Wolse/s door. Anne Boleyn also began to 
suspect Wolsey's good intentions towards herself, and 
thought that he was responsible for these repeated delays. 
"Wolsey could no longer doubt that his all was staked on 
the issue of the trial, which at length began at Blackfriars 
on 18th June 1529. Katharine appeared, and protested 
against the jurisdiction of the court. For the purpose of 
deciding this point it was necessary that both parties 
should appear in person; and on 21st June Henry and 
Katharine both were present. The king demanded 
instant judgment for the easing of his conscience; 
Katharine first knelt before the king and asked for pity, 
then she appealed to Rome, where only the cause could 
be decided without partiality or suspicion. The legates 
overruled her appeal, and on her non-appearance declared 
her contumacious. 

The summoning of the king and queen was merely a 
formal incident in the procedure of the court, but it 
strangely impressed itself upon men's minds. The king, 
whom they regarded as the fountain of law, was called 
to plead before one of his own subjects and a foreign 
Apart from any thought of the question at issue, 



or its rights and^ wrongs, Englishmen marvelled at this 
indignity, and felt that ecclesiastical law was some foreign 
thing which they could not fathom. No doubt the im- 
pression then wrought upon their minds accounts in some 
measure for the acceptance of the royal supremacy, as 
being at least more intelligible than the actual working 
of the outworn theory of the supremacy of the Pope. 

Moreover, the suppliant attitude of Katharine 
awakened a strong feeling of compassion, which on 
28th June found expression from the upright Bishop of 
Rochester, John Fisher, who appeared to plead Kath- 
arine's cause, and declared himself ready to follow the 
example of John the Baptist and lay down his life, if 
need be, to maintain the sanctity of matrimony. Others 
followed his example, and the signs of some dislike to 
the king's proceedings amongst Englishmen encouraged 
Campeggio to fall back upon his policy of procrastina- 
tion, which the impetuous zeal of Wolsey was striving 
to overcome. 

Henry grew more and more angry at the signs of 
opposition to his will which met him on every side, and 
Wolsey had to bear the brunt of the royal wrath. 
Cavendish tells how one day Wolsey left the king's 
presence and took his barge. The Bishop of Carlisle, 
who was with him, remarked that the day was hot. 
"Yea," quoth my lord cardinal, "if ye had been as well 
chafed as I have been within this hour ye would say it 
was very hot." He went home "to his naked bed," 
where in two hours' time he was found by Lord Wilt- 
shire, who brought a message from the king, bidding 
him and Campeggio " repair unto the queen at Bridewell, 
Into her chamber, to persuade her by their wisdoms, 


advising her to surrender the whole jnatfcer nnto the 
king's hands by her own will and consent, which should 
be much better to her honour than to stand to the trial 
of law and be condemned, which would seem much to 
her slander and defamation." Wolsey vainly complained 
of the folly of the lords of the Council in putting such 
fancies into the king's head : he was bound to rise and 
obey. Sadly he sought Campeggio, and with a sense of 
deep humiliation the two judges set out to make another 
attempt to browbeat an accused who had already refused 
to submit to their judicial authority. 

On 23d July it was expected that the court would give 
its decision. The king was present in a gallery, and 
after the reading of the pleas his counsel demanded 
judgment. Campeggio rose and declared that as the 
vacation of the Eoman courts began at the end of July 
and lasted till October, he must follow that custom, and 
adjourn the sittings of the court for two months. On 
this the Duke of Suffolk slapped the table and exclaimed, 
" It was never merry in England whilst we had cardinals 
among us." Wolsey was not the man to brook an 
insult, especially from one whom he had greatly benefited. 
" Sir," he said, " of all men within this realm ye have 
least cause to dispraise or be offended at cardinals : for 
if I, a simple cardinal, had not been, you should have 
had at this present no head upon your shoulders, 
wherein you should have a tongue to make any such 
report of us, who intend you no manner of displeasure." 

But though Wolsey could still wear a bold face when 
attacked, he knew that the future was hopeless. His 
enemies were daily gaining ground. His place, as the 
king's trusted counsellor, was taken by Stephen Gar- 


diner, wliom he had trained, and who was now the 
king's secretary and Anne Boleyn's chief agent. The 
old nobles, headed by the Duke of Norfolk, had made 
common cause with the relations of Anne Eoleyn, and 
saw their opportunity of avenging themselves for aH the 
slights which Wolsey had put upon them. Henry was 
unwilling to abandon all hopes of his divorce through 
the legatine court, and spared Wolsey for a time ; but 
Wolsey knew that the ground was slipping from under 
him. The Pope resolved to revoke the cause to Eome, 
and recall the powers granted to the legates ; it required 
all Wolsey's efforts to prevent the issue of a citation to 
Henry to appear before the Eoman court. 

Moreover, Wolsey had the additional pang of seeing 
all the fruits of his diplomatic activity abandoned before, 
the absorbing interest of this miserable matter of the 
king's domestic life. If there was one object which was 
dear to Wolsey's heart, it was to secure England's power 
in Europe by a close alliance with France. For this 
purpose he had made great sacrifices, and he thought 
that he had some claim on Francis I.'s gratitude. Yet 
Francis was negotiating for peace with Charles T., and 
a conference was being held at Cambrai between 'his 
mother Louise and Charles's aunt Margaret. Wolsey 
sorely longed to be present at that conference and pro- 
tect the interests of England; but Henry YIII. had .no 
interest in such matters, and only regarded Wolsey's- 
wish as a sign that he was lukewarm in his efforts for 
the divorce. Moreover, Francis I. defamed him to the 
English envoy, the Duke of Suffolk, and did his best to 
foster the king's suspicion of Wolsey's zeal in "tha 
great matter." He knew that to deprive Henry of his 



acute adviser was the readiest means of hiding his own 
proceedings. The conference at Cambrai was an aban- 
donment of the methods of diplomacy and a return to 
the old usages of the days of chivalry. Two women 
took counsel together about family affairs, and their 
object was to remove domestic difficulties. Eeally 
Francis I. was weary of a profitless warfare, and agreed 
to abandon Italy to Charles V. Henry VIII. was ap- 
peased by a transference of the debt of Charles Y. to 
the shoulders of Francis L, and this promise of more 
money seems to have satisfied the English king. Early 
in August the peace was signed, and Henry was in- 
cluded in its provisions. If a testimony were needed 
that entirely English diplomacy depended upon Wolsey, 
it would be found in Henry's short-sightedness at 
this time. He did not try to influence the proceed- 
ings at Cambrai, but allowed himself to be hoodwinked 
by Francis I., even in the point about which he was 
most interested. The peace of Cambrai left Charles V. 
supreme in Italy, and restored in name the authority of 
the Pope, which the two sovereigns declared themselves 
resolved to maintain. Its practical result was to make 
the Pope more anxious to please Charles, who was 
now most closely connected with his political interests, 
and to free him from the dread of an alliance between 
Henry and Francis, which might have brought pressure 
to bear upon his action in the divorce. Clement 
had now no special motive for trying to conciliate the 
English king, and it was clear to all Europe that Wolsey 
no longer guided England's policy. 

It was not only that Wolsey had failed in the mattei 
of the divorce, but his failure had brought to light the 


true nature of the policy which he was pursuing, and 
had shown that it was not adapted to the turn which 
affairs were taking under the influence of the king's 
personal desires. Wolsey had planned a conservative 
reform, to be carried out gradually. England, respected 
on the Continent, and holding the balance between 
France and the Empire, was gradually to assert its 
power and independence by setting up a strong mon- 
archy which should overawe the Papacy, and without 
any formal breach with past traditions, should remodel 
its ecclesiastical institutions, and put its relations to the 
Papacy on a new footing. Henry VIII. had so far 
entered into the spirit of this plan as to regard the 
existing state of things as of little moment, and his 
wishes led him to try and anticipate the future. This 
was the most disastrous thing that could have befallen 
Wolsey : it is the danger which besets all attempts at 
conservative reform. It is hard to train men in the 
ideas of future change, and expect them to submit 
patiently to present fetters. Henry brusquely de- 
manded too much from the Pope, and the Pope in his 
alarm offered too little. Wolsey tried to mediate, but 
he was too closely allied with Henry for the Pope to 
trust him, and when his object was clearly seen in a 
small matter he was deprived of the means by which he 
hoped to win. His method was framed for large opera- 
tions on a large field ; it was not suited for the petty 
task which was suddenly imposed upon him. Yet if it 
failed there it was sure to be condemned altogether, and 
the future would belong to the more revolutionary forces 
which he had been trying to hold in check. 

So in proportion as Wolsey failed about the divorce, 


the threads of his different but converging schemes fell 
from his hands. What was the profit to Henry of 
Wolsey's intricate foreign policy if it did not allow him 
to get a divorce when he pleased? Why should he 
deal tenderly with the papal authority when it threw 
such obstacles in his way? Why should he spare the 
Church when its bishops protested against him 1 Why 
should he permit the slow transformation of the monas- 
teries when with a little trouble their spoil would fall 
into his hands 1 Why should he trust to Wolsey, who 
had already failed him. in his need, when he had men 
like Gardiner, with clear heads about matters of details, 
to serve him at his need 1 ? Above all, why should 
Wolsey's fine-drawn plans stand between him and his 
people's affections, and lead him to do what Englishmen 
neither understood nor approved? These were the 
questions with which Henry was plied. Wolsey had 
been only too successful and too consistent. If his 
policy was abandoned in aught, it must be abandoned 
in all. When Henry let fall Wolsey's foreign policy, 
and made no effort to influence the peace of Cambrai, 
there was no further need of Wolsey in England's 
councils, and his rule was practically at an end. 

Still Wolsey was permitted to retain his offices. 
Cainpeggio had not yet departed ; something might 
still be done. The king had for some time avoided 
seeing Wolsey, and was engaged in wandering from 
place to place in the company of Anne Boleyn. At 
last, in the middle of September, Campeggio prepared 
to return to Eome, and accompanied by Wolsey went 
to take leave of the king, who was then at Grafton in 
Northamptonshire. There they arrived on 19th Septem- 


her, and Campeggio was shown to Ms room, but Wolsey 
was informed that there was no room provided for him. 
He was relieved from his astonishment by a groom of 
the stole, who said, "I assure you, sir, here is very 
little room in this house, scantly sufficient for the king. 
However, I beseech your grace to accept mine for a 
season." When Wolsey and Campeggio were ushered 
into the king's presence they found the lords of the 
Council eagerly watching the king's behaviour. If they 
expected any signs of the royal displeasure they were 
disappointed, as Henry received Wolsey most graciously, 
and drew him aside into a window, where he talked 
with him privately. 

The king dined privately with Anne Boleyn, and 
Wolsey dined with the lords of the Council. In course 
of conversation he hinted at his own intentions for the 
future by saying, "It were well done if the king 
would send his chaplains and bishops to their cures and 
benefices." The Duke of Norfolk eagerly assented, and 
Wolsey went on to say that he would gladly go to his 
bishopric of Winchester. Then Norfolk showed his 
fears by saying, "Nay, to your see of York, whence 
comes both your greatest honour and charge." Already 
Wolsey's foes were scheming to remove him as far as 
possible from the royal presence. 

Every one was eagerly watching and listening for the 
smallest indications of the royal pleasure j and Caven- 
dish was told that Anne Boleyn at dinner with the 
king showed her dissatisfaction at Wolsey's kindly re- 
ception. She denounced the cardinal in no measured 
terms, but without any immediate result, as after dinner 
the king called Wolsey into his private room and talked 


with him for some time; "the which blanked his 
enemies very sore, and made them to stir the coals, 
being in doubt what this matter would grow into, 
having now none other refuge to trust to but Mistress 
Anne, in whom was all their whole and firm trust and 
affiance." Wolsey rode off to "Master Empson's house, 
called Euston, three miles from Grafton," where he 
spent the night, and received a visit from Gardiner, 
who was thought to come as a spy j but Wolsey talked 
to him about indifferent subjects, and showed that his 
sense of personal dignity was still strong. 

Next morning he rode early to the Court, and saw 
the king for a short time ; but Anne Boleyn had prepared 
a picnic at Hatwell Park, and carried off Henry with 
her, that "Wolsey might not have much opportunity for 
private talk. The king bade a hurried farewell to 
Wolsey and Campeggio, and then rode away with Anne, 
while the legates returned to London. Carnpeggio did 
not reach Dover till 8th October, and before he was 
allowed to embark his luggage was ransacked by the 
king's officials. 

This extraordinary violation of the privileges of an 
ambassador was characteristic of the unscrupulous mean- 
ness to which Henry was now ready to descend. He 
hoped to find amongst Campeggio's papers the Pope's 
decretal about the law of the divorce. If he had found 
it Wolsey might still have been useful. He might have 
been compelled to continue the proceedings of the 
legatine court, and give judgment in Henry's favour, 
sheltering himself 'under the terms of the commission, 
and applying the interpretation of the decretal. In this 
way the first measures wrung out of the Pope when he 


wished to be conciliating might hare been used in a 
high-handed fashion against the conclusions of his settled 
policy. But Campeggio had already been instructed by 
the Pope to burn the decretal. Nothing was found as 
the result of the search, which only revealed the cardinal's 
poverty. He had come to England ill provided, and had 
gained nothing from the royal bounty. 

This unworthy device seems to have been of Henry's 
own devising ; and as soon as he heard of its failure 
Wolsey's doom was sealed. The king had treated him 
graciously, to the dismay even of Anne Boleyn, a few 
days before; now he abandoned him to his enemies, 
who had their weapons of attack in readiness. On 9th 
October the king's attorney sued for a writ of prcemunire 
against Wolsey, on the ground that his acts done as 
legate were contrary to the statute. After this Wolsey's 
ruin was a foregone conclusion. 



WHEN the storm broke over his head Wolsey had no 
hope of escape. His position as an English minister was 
due entirely to the king's favour, and when that favour 
was withdrawn he was entirely helpless. Outside the 
king there was no motive power in English politics at 
this period. There was no party in the State strong 
enough to "bring any influence to bear upon him : he was 
likely to be moved by nothing save the dread of a 
popular rising, and there was no chance of a popular 
rising in Wolsey's favour. On the other hand, Wolsey 
had been contented to take upon his own shoulders the 
responsibility of all that was most unpopular in the 
king's proceedings. The demands created by the king's 
extravagance were put down to his extortionate nature ; 
the debts incurred by a policy which he, disapproved 
were supposed to be the results of his influence ; even 
the divorce was attributed to his ill-will against the 
Emperor and his love for France. The current of 
popular opinion ran strong against Wolsey. He had 
made few friends and many enemies. His enemies were 


powerful, Ms friends were powerless. No one in 
England could lend him any help. 

It is true that the charge brought against him was 
most iniquitous. He had obtained his legatine authority 
through the king's urgent request ; he had used it solely 
at the king's orders, and in the king's behalf. But he 
knew that such a plea would not be regarded, as the 
king's courts would simply register the king's will. 
There was no other course than entire submission, and 
before the king Wolsey had no thought of personal 
dignity. He wrote to Henry as a lowly suppliant, 
"For surely, most gracious king, the remembrance of my 
folly, with the sharp sword of your Highness's dis- 
pleasure, hath so penetrated my heart that I cannot but 
lamentably cry, It is enough ; now stay, most merciful 
king, your hand." Such loyalty, such entire submission, 
is to our minds inconceivable, and only shows how the 
possession of absolute power debases not only those who 
are invested with it but those who are brought in contact 
with them. Wolsey might indeed lament his "folly" 
in putting any trust in princes; he had served his 
master only too well, and met with the basest ingrati- 
tude for all the sacrifices of his own "wishes and his own 

Still he hoped by his submission to save something. 
If sentence were pronounced against him, under the 
charge of prcemunire, his goods would be forfeited, and his 
acts invalidated. If he threw himself upon the king's 
mercy he might at least save his two colleges, and might 
be permitted to serve his country on a smaller scale. 
What was coming he could not foresee. There would be 
open war between Henry and the Papacy, waged with 


new weapons and fraught with danger to the English 
Church. "It is the intention of these lords," wrote the 
French ambassador, "when Wolsey is dead or destroyed 
to get rid of the Church and spoil the goods of both. 
I suppose they mean to do grand things." The days of 
revolution were at hand, and Wolsey might still have 
some power to check its excesses. 

His submission led to no immediate results. On 16th 
October the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk demanded the 
surrender of the great seal, and ordered Wolsey to depart 
to his house at Esher. Wolsey would humble himself 
before the king, but not before others, and calmly asked 
them for their authority. They answered that they had 
the king's commission by word of month. " The great 
seal of England," said Wolsey, "was delivered me by 
the king's own person, to enjoy during my life, with the 
ministration of the office and high room of chancellor- 
ship of England; for my surety whereof I have the 
king's letters-patent to show." High words were used 
by the dukes, but in the end they departed, and reap- 
peared next day with letters from the king. On reading 
them Wolsey delivered up the seal, and expressed him- 
self content to withdraw to Esher. 

Before departing he made an inventory of all his 
plate and tapestries, that it might be ready for the 
king to take possession. He further signed an indenture 
acknowledging that on the authority of bulls obtained 
from Eome, which he published in England contrary to 
the statute, he had unlawfully vexed the prelates of the 
realm and other of the king's subjects, thereby incurring 
the penalties of jwcemtwire, by which also he deserved to 
suffer perpetual imprisonment at the king's pleasure, and 


to forfeit all his lands, offices, and goods. He besought 
the king, in part recompense of his offences, to take into 
his hands all his temporal possessions. Then he entered 
his barge in the presence of a crowd, which was sorely 
disappointed not to see him take the way to the Tower. 

When Wolsey arrived at Putney he was greeted by a 
messenger from the king, who brought him as a token a 
ring, with a message " that the king bade him be of good 
cheer, for he should not lack Although the king hath 
dealt with you unkindly, he saith that it is for no dis- 
pleasure that he beareth you, but only to satisfy the 
minds of some which he knoweth be not your friends. 
Also ye know right well that he is able to recompense 
you with twice as much as your goods amounteth unto : 
and all this he bade me that I should show you. There- 
fore, sir, take patience ; and for my part, I trust to see 
you in better estate than ever ye were." When Wolsey 
heard this he dismounted from his mule and knelt in the 
mud in sign of thankfulness. He gave a present to the 
messenger, and grieved that he had no worthy gift to 
send to the king. Presently he bethought himself of 
a jester belonging to his household. " If ye would at 
my request present the king with this poor fool, I trust 
his Highness would accept him well, for surely for a 
nobleman's pleasure he is worth a thousand pounds." 
It is a relief to find in this dismal story some signs of 
human feeling. "The poor fool took on so, and fired so 
in such a rage when he saw that he must needs depart 
from my lord," that six tall yeomen had to be sent as an 
escort to convey him safely to the Court, 

It is needless to seek for a motive for Henry's conduct 
in sending this delusive message; probably he did it 


throng! an amiable desire to make himself generally 
agreeable. No man likes to feel that he is acting vil- 
lainously ; perhaps Henry's conscience felt all the pleasure 
of having performed a virtuous action when he heard of 
Wolsey's gratitude for such a small mercy. Henry VIII. 
"was nothing if he was not conscientious ; but he made 
large drafts on his conscience, and paid them back in 
small coin. Probably we have here the record of such a 

Certainly Henry did nothing to give his good- 
will towards Wolsey any practical expression; he did 
not even send him any money to provide his household 
with the necessaries of life. For a month they remained 
"without beds, sheets, tablecloths, cups, and dishes to 
eat their meat or lie in," and ultimately had to borrow 
them. What most distressed Wolsey, who had been 
accustomed to munificence, was that he had not even 
money to pay the wages of his household before he dis- 
missed them sadly from his service. In his straits one 
of his officials came to his aid, and showed his tact and 
management in affairs of business. Thomas Cromwell, 
the son of a London citizen, spent an adventurous youth 
in business on the Continent, and settled in London as 
a small attorney and a money-lender. Wolsey had 
found out his ability, and employed him to manage the 
dissolution of the monasteries, and transact the business 
connected with the foundation of his colleges. No doubt 
this gave him opportunities of spreading his own busi- 
ness, and making himself useful friends. In anticipa- 
tion of the future he contrived to get himself elected as 
member of the Parliament for which Henry VIII. issued 
writs upon the suspension of the legatine court 


Cromwell accompanied Wolsey to Esher, and was 
much moved by the thought of the loss which hia 
patron's fall was likely to inflict upon himself. On 
1st November Cavendish found him leaning in the win- 
dow "with a primer in his hand, saying our Lady 
mattins. He prayed not more earnestly than the tears 
distilled from his eyes." He lamented that he was in dis- 
dain with most men for his master's sake, and surely 
without just cause ; but he was resolved that afternoon 
to ride to London, and so to the Court, " where I will 
either make or mar, or I come again." After dinner he 
talked with Wolsey about his household, and then 
showed his power of gaining popularity at the expense 
of others. "Have you not," he exclaimed, "a number 
of chaplains, to whom ye have departed very liberally 
with spiritual promotions'? and yet have your poor 
servants taken much more pains for you in one day than 
all your idle chaplains have done in a year. Therefore 
if they will not freely and frankly consider your liberality, 
and depart with you of the same goods gotten in your 
service, now in your great indigence and necessity, it is 
pity that they live." Wolsey agreed ; he summoned his 
household, and addressed them in a dignified speech ; he 
gave them a month's holiday, that they might seek some 
more profitable service. Then Cromwell said that they 
lacked money, and himself tendered five pounds towards 
their payment, adding, " Now let us see what your chap- 
lains will do." The example was contagious, and con- 
tributions poured in. The household was paid, and 
departed full of thankfulness to Cromwell. Then, after 
a private conversation with Wolsey, Cromwell rode ofi 
to London to "make or mar." 


Parliament met on 3d November, and Wolsey's enemies 
hoped that its first business would be Wolsey's impeach- 
ment. For this, however, Henry VIII. was not prepared, 
though he did not openly forbid it. He was not sure of 
the capacity of his new advisers, and perhaps felt that he 
might have further need of Wolsey's services. Anyhow it 
was better to keep his opponents in constant fear of 'his 
return to power. They were bound together rather by 
opposition to Wolsey than by any agreement amongst 
themselves; and Henry was not very sanguine about 
their administrative success. The Duke of Norfolk, the 
uncle of Anne Boleyn, was president of the Council, and 
Suffolk was vice-president. The chancellorship was 
given to Sir Thomas More, who was well fitted by his 
literary reputation and high character to calm the fears 
of moderate men, and show Europe that the English 
king had no lack of eminent servants. The chancellor- 
ship of the duchy of Lancashire was given to the trea- 
surer of the household, Sir William Fitzwilliam, a 
capable official. Gardiner preferred an ecclesiastical post, 
and succeeded to the bishopric of Winchester, which 
Wolsey was bidden to resign. It still remained to be 
seen if Norfolk, Suffolk, and More could fill the place of 

Parliament was opened by the king; and the chancellor, 
according to custom, made a speech. In the course of it 
More showed that a man of letters does not necessarily 
retain his literary taste in politics, and that high 
character does not save a statesman from the temptation 
to catch a passing cheer by unworthy taunts at his de- 
feated adversary. He spoke of the king as shepherd of 
Ms people, and went on, " As you see that amongst a 


great flock of sheep some be rotten and faulty, which the 
good shepherd sendeth from the good sheep, so the great 
wether which is of late fallen, as you all know, so craftily, 
so scabbedly, yea, and so untruly juggled with the king, 
that all men must needs guess and think that he thought 
in himself that he had no wit to perceive his crafty 
doing, or else that he presumed that the king would not 
see nor know his fraudulent juggling and attempts. But 
he was deceived ; for his Grace's sight was so quick and 
penetrating that he saw him, yea, and saw through him, 
both within and without, so that all things to him were 
open ; and according to his deserts he hath had a gentle 

This speech of More served as introductory to a Bill 
which was brought into the Upper House for disabling 
Wolsey from being restored to his former dignities and 
place in the king's Council. It was founded upon a 
series of articles which had been drawn up by his 
enemies long before, and were a tissue of frivolous or 
groundless charges. The Bill passed the Lords, but on 
its introduction into the Commons was opposed by 
Cromwell, who knew that the king did not wish it to "be 
passed. It answered its purpose of casting a stigma on 
Wolsey, and justifying Henry's conduct towards him; 
but Henry did not intend to deprive himself of the 
power of employing "Wolsey again if he should prove 
useful. So Cromwell served the king while he served 
Wolsey, and served himself at the same time by a dis- 
play of zeal for his fallen master which raised him in 
men's esteem, "so that at length, for his honest behaviour 
in his master's cause, he grew into such estimation in 
every man's opinion, that he was esteemed to be the 


most faithfullest servant to Ms master of all others, 
wherein lie was of all men greatly commended." More- 
over, he managed to make friends by the sure tie of 
self-interest. He advised Wolsey to buy off the hostility 
of important men by granting them pensions out of 
the revenues of his see : as he chose the recipients of 
the money and negotiated the grants he gained more 
gratitude than Wolsey gained profit out of the trans- 
action. Wolsey believed that his prospects depended 
on Cromwell's zeal, and the great cardinal became sub- 
missive to the direction of one whom he had raised. 
He abode at Esher in a state of feverish anxiety, some- 
times receiving a present and a gracious message from 
the king, often irritated by Cromwell, who deluded him 
by a cheap display of zeal, grieving most of all at the 
uncertainty of the fortunes of his great colleges, which 
he still wished to leave as a memorial to posterity of the 
schemes which he intended. 

Parliament was prorogued in the middle of December, 
and the Bill against Wolsey was allowed to drop. The 
king and Anne Boleyn were delighted with the cardinal's 
house at York Place, of which they took possession, 
and Wolsey was still left in uncertainty about his future. 
Anxiety preyed upon his health, and at Christmas he fell 
ilL The news of his illness seems to have brought some 
remorse to Henry, who sent his own physician, and eagerly 
asked for tidings, saying, "I would not lose him for 
twenty thousand pounds." Doctor Buttes answered, 
"Then must your Grace send him some comfortable 
message as shortly as is possible." * The king gave Buttes 
a favourite ring from his own finger, saying, " Tell him 
that I am not offended with him in my heart nothing at 


all, and that shall he perceive, and God send him life very 
shortly." He asked Anne Eoleyn to send also a " token 
with comfortable words," and Anne at Ms command 
obeyed, overcoming her reluctance by the thought that 
the cardinal was on his deathbed. 

Doctor Buttes's prescription was a good one, and with 
revived hopes Wolsey speedily recovered. On 2d 
February 1530 the king sent him some furniture for his 
house and chapel. On 12th February he received a full 
pardon for his offences, and on 14th February was 
restored to the archbishopric of York and its possessions 
excepting York Place, which the king retained for him- 
self. He entreated to be allowed to keep also the 
bishopric of Winchester and the Abbey of St. Alban's ; 
but Gardiner had his eye on Winchester, and the Dukes 
of Norfolk and Suffolk were anxious that * Wolsey should 
not hold a post which might bring him into the neigh- 
bourhood of the king. He was compelled to resign both 
these offices, and recognised in this the power of his foes. 

The damp air of Esher was hurtful to his health, and 
he received permission to change his residence to Rich- 
mond Lodge. There he stayed until the state of the 
roads allowed him to take his journey northwards, 
which the Duke of Norfolk pressed him to- do in forcible 
language. " Show him/' he said to Cromwell, " that if 
he go not away shortly, I will, rather than he should 
tarry still, tear him with my teeth." When Wolsey - 
heard this he said, " Marry, Thomas, then it is time to 
be going, if my lord of Norfolk take it so. Therefore 
I pray you go to the king and say that I would with all 
my heart go to my benefice at York but for want of 
money." Wolsey's immediate necessities were grudgingly 


supplied by the lords of the Council, and in the be- 
ginning of Passion Week he began his journey to York. 
He was received with courtesy by the gentry on the 
way. The manor-house at Southwell, where he resolved 
to live, required some repairs, and he could not occupy 
it till 5th June. 

In his house at Southwell Wolsey received the neigh- 
bouring gentry, and made himself popular amongst them. 
He lived simply, and applied himself to the discharge of 
the duties of his office with great success. A pamphlet 
published in 1536 says of him : "Who was less beloved 
in the north than my lord cardinal before he was 
amongst them ? Who better beloved after he had been 
there a while 1 He gave bishops a right good example 
how they might win men's hearts. There were few 
holy days but he would ride five or six miles from his 
house, now to this parish church, now to that, and there 
cause one or other of his doctors to make a sermon unto 
the people. He sat amongst them and said mass before 
all the parish; he Saw why churches were made; he 
began to restore them to their right and proper use ; he 
brought his dinner with him, and bade divers of the 
parish to it. He inquired whether there were any 
debate or grudge between any of them. If there were, 
after dinner he sent for the parties to the church and 
made them all one." It is an attractive picture of 
episcopal activity which is here set before us. We wish 
that Wolsey had been great enough to realise the pleasure 
of these simple duties so thoroughly as to wean himself 
from the allurements of political ambition. But Wolsey 
in his retirement was something like Machiavelli in 
exile : he found some satisfaction for his activity in the 


doings of peasants, but he went home and hankered for 
the great life of politics which was denied him. He 
meditated still how he could overthrow his enemies and 
return to the more complex problems in which he had 
been trained. 

At the end of the summer Wolsey removed from 
Southwell to another manor-house at Scrooby, where he 
continued the same mode of life. All this time his actions 
were jealously watched by his enemies, who suspected 
him of trying to gain popularity and raise up a party in 
his favour. They did their best to keep him in perpetual 
annoyance by threats of legal proceedings touching the 
possessions of the see of York. The king paid no heed 
to him save to exact all the money he could from his 
forfeiture. Amongst other things which the king 
claimed was the payment of Wolsey's pension from the 
French king; and his care for Wolsey's health at 
Christmas may have been due to the fact that he 
thought that Wolsey's life had a pecuniary value to him- 
self. He presently dissolved Wolsey's college at Ipswich, 
and seized all its lands and possessions. It was a bitter 
blow to Wolsey to see his plans thus overthrown. He 
had hoped to found an institution which should promote 
education where it was sorely needed in the eastern 
counties. It was the beginning of a project which would 
have led to the foundation of local universities, which it 
has been reserved to our own day to revive. If Wolsey 
had remained in power monastic revenues would have 
been increasingly diverted to educational purposes, and 
England would have been provided with colleges which 
would have grown with local needs. The dissolution of 
the college at Ipswich checked this process at the begin- 


ning, and negatived any scheme for the slow transforma- 
tion of the monasteries into institutions which were in 
accordance with national needs. 

Cardinal College at Oxford met with better fortune. 
Wolsey pleaded hard for its preservation, and the authori- 
ties of the college made a stand in its behalf. The king 
was not yet prepared to seize the lands of the dissolved 
monastery of St, Frideswyde, or of the old Canterbury 
Hall, which had been absorbed, and it could be shown 
that he would lose as much as he would gain by attempt- 
ing an accurate division of the property of the college. 
He agreed to "have an honourable college there, but not 
so great and of such magnificence as my lord cardinal 
intended to have, for it is not thought meet for the 
common weal of our realm." The site of the college 
and a portion of its revenues were saved from the com- 
missioners who were realising Wolsey's forfeiture ; but 
the name of Christ Church obliterated that of Cardinal 
College, and Henry VIII. endeavoured as far as he could 
to associate the foundation with himself and dissociate it 
from Wolsey. 

This persistent disregard of the ideas which Wolsey 
had striven to put forward weighed heavily on his 
spirits. "I am put from my sleep and meat," he wrote, 
" for such advertisements as I have had of the dissolu- 
tion of my colleges." It was not only the sense of 
personal disappointment which afflicted him ; it was the 
hopeless feeling that all his policy was being reversed. 
Wolsey was in his way a churchman, and hoped as a 
statesman to bring the Church into accordance with the 
national needs. He saw that only in this way could the 
existing resources of the Church be saved from the hand 


of the spoiler. The king's desire to seize upon the 
revenues of his colleges showed him that Henry had 
cast away the principles which Wolsey had striven to 
enforce, that he had broken through the limits which 
Wolsey had endeavoured to set, and that when once 
ne had tasted his prey his appetite was likely to be in- 
satiable. This taught Wolsey that his own future was 
hopeless. On the lower level to which the king had 
sunk he was not likely to need the cardinal's aid. 
Wolsey's great schemes for the future were to make way 
for a policy mainly dictated by present greed. Henry 
YIIL had discovered how great his power was, and 
intended to use it for the satisfaction of his own desires. 
So Wolsey turned himself more attentively to the 
duties of his episcopal office, hoping thereby to make 
some amends for past neglect, and fill up with useful 
work the remainder of his days. His poverty had pre- 
vented him from taking possession of his cathedral, as 
he had no money to defray the expenses of his installa- 
tion. By the end of September he had managed to 
scrape together XI 500, and set out from Scrooby to 
York. On his way he was busied with confirmations, 
At St. Oswald's Abbey he confirmed children from eight 
in the morning till noon ; after dinner he returned to 
the church at one, and continued his confirmation till 
four, when he was constrained for weariness to sit down 
in a chair. Next morning before his departure he con- 
firmed a hundred children more ; and as he rode on his 
way he found at Ferrybridge two hundred children wait- 
ing for confirmation at a stone cross standing upon the 
green. It was late in the evening before he reached 
Cawood Castle, seven miles from York. There he was 


visited by the Dean of York, and made arrangements foi 
his Installation. 

This ceremony, however, was not to take place. 
Wolsey's enemies were implacable, especially the Duke 
of Norfolk, who was alarmed at the renewal of Wolsey's 
popularity in the north, and at the signs of vigour which 
he showed. His actions were jealously watched and 
eagerly criticised to find some opportunity for a charge 
against him, which was at last found in "Wolsey's communi- 
cations with foreign envoys. It would seem that Wolsey 
could not reconcile himself to political inactivity, and 
trusted that the influence of Francis I., for whom he had 
done so much, would be used in his favour. But Francis 
treated Wolsey with the proverbial ingratitude of 
politicians. Wolsey had been a friend of France, but 
his friendship had been costly, and Francis I. found that 
the new ministers were equally friendly to France, and 
did not demand so much in return. In truth, Henry, 
though he had abandoned Wolsey for his failure in 
the matter of the divorce, had not been better served 
by his new advisers, who had no other course to follow 
than that which Wolsey had marked out to use the 
close alliance with France as a means of bringing pres- 
sure to bear upon the Pope. So Norfolk was obsequious 
to Francis, who preferred to deal with a man of Nor- 
folk's calibre rather than acknowledge a master in 

Of this Wolsey was ignorant; and he no longer showed 
his old dexterity in promoting his own interests. He 
made the mistake of trusting to the old methods of 
diplomacy when his position was no longer that of a 
minister, and when he had been removed from actual 


touch of current affairs. He opened up communications 
with the French envoy by means of a Venetian physician, 
Agostino, who was a member of his household. He even 
communicated with the imperial envoy as well. How- 
ever harmless these communications might be, they were 
certainly indiscreet, and were capable of being represented 
to the king as dangerous. Norfolk gained some informa- 
tion, either from the French envoy or from Agostino, 
and laid before the king charges against Wolsey, " that 
he had written to Eome to be reinstated in his possessions, 
and to France for its favour ; and was returning to his 
ancient pomp, and corrupting the people." There was 
not much in these charges ; but Norfolk was afraid of 
Wolsey in the background, and quailed before the king's 
bursts of petulance, in which he said that the cardinal 
knew more about the business of the State than any of 
bis new advisers. Henry was quite satisfied with the 
proceeds of spoiling Wolsey, and was glad to keep him 
in reserve; but the suggestion that Wolsey was in- 
triguing with foreign Courts sorely angered him, and 
he gave orders that Wolsey be brought to trial to 
answer for his conduct. 

So Sir Walter Walshe was sent with a warrant to the 
Earl of Northumberland, and arrived as Wolsey was 
busied at Cawood with the preliminaries of his installa- 
tion. On 4th November, when Wolsey had retired from 
dinner and was sitting in his own room over his dessert, 
the Earl of Northumberland appeared, and demanded 
the keys of the castle from the porter. He entered the 
hall, and posted his servants < to guard all the doors. 
Wolsey, in ignorance of what was in store for him, met 
Northumberland and offered him hospitality, expressing 


his delight at the unexpected visit. When they were 
alone the Earl, " trembling, said, with a very faint and 
soft voice, unto my lord, laying his hand upon his arm r 
<My lord, I arrest you of high treason.'" lor a time 
Wolsey stood speechless with astonishment, then he asked 
to see the warrant, which Northumberland had not 
brought with him. As he was speaking Sir Walter 
Walshe opened the door and thrust into the room the 
physician Agostino, whom he had made prisoner. Wolsey 
asked him about the warrant, and when he recognised 
him as one of the gentlemen of the king's privy chamber, 
he submitted to the royal commands without asking 
further for the production of the warrant. Then he 
delivered up his keys to Northumberland. 

Agostino was at once sent to London tied under a 
horse's belly a mode of conveyance which was doubt- 
less calculated to refresh his memory. When he arrived 
in London he was taken to the Duke of Norfolk's house, 
and showed himself ready to bear witness against Wolsey. 
" Since they have had the cardinal's physician in their 
hands," writes the imperial envoy, "they have found 
what they sought. Since he has been here he has lived 
in the Duke of Norfolk's house like a prince, and is 
singing the tune they wished." 

There was not the same need of haste in bringing 
Wolsey to London, for even with Agostino's help Norfolk 
was doubtful if the evidence against Wolsey would be 
sufficient to ensure his condemnation to death ; and he 
did not wish to give Wolsey the opportunity of a trial 
when he might still be formidable. His imprisonment 
in the Tower at the royal pleasure would only bring him 
nearer to the king, who might at any moment make use of 


him as he threatened. Eeally, Norfolk was somewhat 
embarrassed at the success of his scheme ; and Wolsey, 
in a conversation with Cavendish, showed a flash of his 
old greatness. " If I may come to my answer," he said, 
" I fear no man alive \ for he liveth not upon the earth 
that shall look upon this face and shall be able to accuse 
me of any untruth ; and that know my enemies full well, 
which will be an occasion that I shall not have indifferent 
justice, but they will rather seek some other sinister way 
to destroy me." 

It was this thought that unnerved Wolsey, worn out 
as he was by disappointment, humiliated by his help- 
lessness, and harassed by a sense of relentless persecu- 
tion. Still he retained his dignity and kindliness, and 
when on the evening of 7th November he was told to 
prepare for his journey, he insisted upon bidding fare- 
well to his household. The Earl of Northumberland 
wished to prevent this, and only gave way through fear 
of a tumult if he persisted in his refusal. The servants 
knelt weeping before Wolsey, who " gave them comfort- 
able words and worthy praises for their diligent faith- 
fulness and honest truth towards him, assuring them 
that what chance soever should happen unto Mm, that 
he was a true man and a just to his sovereign lord." 
Then shaking each of them by the hand he departed. 

Outside the gate the country folk had assembled to 
the number of three thousand, who cried, "God save 
your grace. The foul evil take all them that hath thus 
taken you from us ; we pray God that a very vengeance 
may light upon them." Thus they ran crying after him 
through the town of Cawood, they loved him so well. 
After this moving farewell Wolsey rode through the 


gathering darkness to Pomfret, where he was lodged in 
the abbey. Thence he proceeded through Doncaster to 
Sheffield Park, where he was kindly received by the 
Earl of Shrewsbury, whose guest he was for eighteen 
days. Once a day the earl visited him and tried to 
comfort him, but Wolsey refused all human comfort, and 
applied himself .diligently to prayer. While he was at 
Sheffield Park his health, which never had been good, 
began to give way, and he suffered from dysentery, 
which was aggravated by an unskilful apothecary. 

As he was thus ailing there arrived Sir William 
Kingston, Constable of the Tower, with a guard of 
twenty -four soldiers; he had received a commission 
from the king to bring Wolsey as a prisoner to the 
Tower. It would seem from this that Agostino's con- 
fessions had been skilfully raised to fan the royal 
wrath, and Henry gave this sign that he was prepared 
to treat his former minister as a traitor. The Earl of 
Shrewsbury did his best to treat the coming of King- 
ston as a trivial incident, and sent Cavendish to break 
the news gently to his master. Cavendish gave the 
message as he was bidden. "Forsooth my lord of 
Shrewsbury, perceiving by your often communication 
that ye were always desirous to come before the king's 
Majesty, and now as your assured friend, hath travailed 
so with his letters unto the king, that the king hath 
sent for you by Master Kingston and twenty-four of 
the guard to conduct you to his Highness. 3 ' Wolsey 
was not deceived. " Master Kingston," he repeated, and 
smote his thigh When Cavendish made a further 
attempt to cheer him he cut him short by saying, " I 
perceive more than you can imagine or can know. Ex- 


perience hath taught me." When Kingston was Intro- 
duced and knelt before him, Wolsey said, " I pray you 
stand up, and leave your kneeling unto a very wretch 
replete with misery, not worthy to be esteemed, but for 
a vile object utterly cast away, without desert ; and 
therefore, good Master Kingston, stand up, or I will 
myself kneel down by you." After some talk Wolsey 
thanked Kingston for his kind words. " Assure yourself 
that if I were as able and as lusty as I have been but of 
late, I would not fail to ride with you in post. But all 
these comfortable words which ye have spoken be but 
for a purpose to bring me to a f ooPs paradise ; I know 
what is provided for me." 

With a mind thus agitated the sufferings of the 
body increased. When Wolsey took his journey next day 
all regarded him as a dying man. The soldiers of the 
guard, " as soon as they espied their old master in such 
a lamentable estate, lamented him with weeping eyes. 
Whom my lord took by the hands, and divers times by 
the way as he rode he would talk with them, sometime 
with one and sometime with another." That night he 
reached Hardwick Hall, in Notts, a house of the Earl of 
Shrewsbury, and the next day rode to Nottingham. On 
the way from thence to Leicester he was so feeble that 
he could scarcely sit upon his mule. It was dark on 
Saturday night when he reached Leicester Abbey, where 
the abbot greeted him by torchlight. "Eather Abbot," 
he said, " I am come hither to leave my bones among 
you." Kingston had to carry him upstairs to his bed, 
which he never quitted again. 

All Sunday his malady increased, and on Monday 
morning Cavendish, as he watched his face, thought 


him drawing fast to his end. "He perceiving my shadow 
upon the wall by his bedside asked who was there. 
'Sir, lam here,' quoth I. 'What is it of the clock?' 
said he. 'Forsooth, sir/ said I, 'it is past eight of 
the clock in the morning.' ' Eight of the clock, eight 
of the clock,' said he, rehearsing divers times. e Nay, 
nay, it cannot be eight of the clock ; for by eight of 
the clock ye shall lose your master, for my time 
draweth near that I must depart out of this world.' n 

But the dying man was not to depart without a re- 
minder of the pitiless character of the master whom he 
had served so well. When Wolsey left Cawood the 
Earl of Northumberland remained behind to examine 
his papers; amongst them he found a record that 
Wolsey had in his possession 1500, but he reported 
to the king that he could not find the money. Such 
was Henry's keenness as his own minister of finance 
that he could not await Wolsey's arrival in London, 
but wrote off instantly to Kingston, bidding him examine 
Wolsey how he came by the money, and discover where 
it was. In obedience to the royal command Kingston 
reluctantly visited the dying man, who told him that he 
had borrowed the money of divers friends and de- 
pendants whom he did not wish to see defrauded ; the 
money was in the keeping of an honest man, and he 
asked for a little time before disclosing where it was. 

In the night he often swooned, but rallied in the 
morning and asked for food. Some chicken broth was 
brought him, but he remembered that it was a fast-day, 
being St. Andrew's Eve. "What though it be," said 
his confessor, "ye be excused by reason of your sick- 
ness." " Yea," said he, "what though? I will eat no 


more." After this he made his confession, and about 
seven in the morning Kingston entered to ask further 
about the money. But seeing how ill Wolsey was, 
Kingston tried to comfort him. "Well, well," said 
Wolsey, " I see the matter against me how it is framed, 
but if I had served G-od so diligently as I have done 
the king, he would not have given me over in my gray 
hairs. Howbeit, this is the just reward that I must 
receive for my worldly diligence and pains that I had 
to do him service, only to satisfy his vain pleasure, not 
regarding my godly duty. Wherefore, I pray you, with 
all my heart, to have me most humbly commended unto 
his royal Majesty, beseeching him in my behalf to call 
to his most gracious remembrance all matters proceed- 
ing between him and me from the beginning of the 
world unto this day, and the progress of the same, and 
most chiefly in the weighty matter now depending (i.e. 
the divorce) ; then shall his conscience declare whether 
I have offended him or no. He is sure a prince of a 
royal courage, and hath a princely heart; and rather 
than he will either miss or want any part of his will or 
appetite he will put the loss of one-half of his realm in 
danger. For I assure you I have often kneeled before 
him in his privy chamber on my knees the space of 
an hour or two, to persuade him from his will and 
appetite ; but I could never bring to pass to dissuade 
him therefrom. Therefore, Master Kingston, if it chance 
hereafter you to be one of his Privy Council, as for 
your wisdom and other qualities ye are meet to be, 
I warn you to be well advised and assured what matter 
ye put in his head, for ye shall never put it out again." 
He went on to bid him warn the king against the spread of 


the pernicious sect of Lutherans as harmful to the royal 
authority and destructive of the order of the realm. 
Then as his tongue failed him he gasped out, " Master 
Kingston, farewell I can no more, but wish all things 
to have good success. My time draweth on fast. I may 
not tarry with you. And forget not, I pray you, what 
I have said and charged you withal, for when I am dead 
ye shall peradventure remember my words much better." 
His breath failed him and his eyes grew fixed. The 
abbot came to administer supreme unction, and as the 
clock struck eight Wolsey passed away. "And calling 
to our remembrance his words the day before, how he 
said that at eight of the clock we should lose our master, 
one of us looked upon another supposing that he pro- 
phesied of his departure." 

Kingston sent a message to tell the king of Wolsey's 
death, and hastened the preparations for his funeral. 
His body was placed in a coffin of boards, vested in his 
archiepiscopal robes, with his mitre, cross, and ring. It 
lay in state till five in the afternoon, when it was carried 
into the church and was placed in the Lady Chapel, 
where it was watched all night. At four in the morning 
mass was sung, and by six the grave had closed over 
the remains of Wolsey. 

It would be consoling to think that a pang of genuine 
sorrow was felt by Henry VIII. when he heard of the 
death of Wolsey ; but unfortunately there is no ground 
for thinking so, and all that is on record shows us that 
Henry's chief care still was to get hold of the 1 500, 
which was all that remained of Wolsey's fortune. 
Cavendish was taken by Kingston to Hampton Court, 
where he was summoned to the king, who was engaged 


in archery in the park. As Cavendish^; stood against 
a tree sadly musing Henry suddenly canie behind him 
and slapped him on the back, saying, " I\will make an 
end of my game, and then I will talk with you." Soon 
lie finished his game and went into the garden, !,but kept 
Cavendish waiting for some time outside. The interview 
lasted more than an hour, "during which time he examined 
me of divers matters concerning my lord, wishing that 
liever than twenty thousand pounds that he had lived. 
Then he asked me for the fifteen hundred pounds' 1 which 
Master Kingston moved to my lord before his death." 
Cavendish told him what he knew about it, and said 
that it was deposited with a certain priest. "Well, 
then," said the king, " let me alone, and keep this gear, 
secret between yourself and me, and let no man be privy 
thereof ; for if I hear more of it, then I know by whom 
it is come to knowledge. Three may keep counsel if 
two be away ; and if I thought that my cap knew my 
counsel I would cast it into the fire and burn it." 
Henry spoke freely, and these words disclose the secret 
of his strength. Every politician has a method of his 
own by which he hides his real character and assumes 
a personality which is best fitted for his designs. Henry 
YIII. beneath an air of frankness and geniality con- 
cealed a jealous and watchful temperament, full of crafty 
designs for immediate gain, resolute, avaricious, and 
profoundly self-seeking. 

As we have been so much indebted to Cavendish 
for an account of Wolsey's private life, especially in his 
last days, it is worth while to follow Cavendish's fortunes. 
The king promised to take him into his own service, and 
to pay him his wages for the last year, amounting to 


10. He bade him ask It of the Duke of Norfolk 
As he left the king he met Kingston coming from th6 
Council, whither Cavendish also was summoned. King- 
ston implored him to take heed what he said. The 
Council would examine him about Wolsey's last words \ 
"and if you tell them the truth you shall undo your- 
self." He had denied that he heard anything, and 
warned Cavendish to do the same. So Cavendish 
answered the Duke of Norfolk that he was so busied in 
waiting on Wolsey that he paid little heed to what he 
said. "He spoke many idle words, as men in such 
extremities do, the which I cannot now remember." He 
referred them to Kingston's more accurate memory. It 
is a dismal picture of Court life which is here presented 
to us. On every side was intrigue, suspicion, and deceit. 
Wolsey's last words were consigned to oblivion ; for the 
frankness that was begotten of a retrospect in one who 
had nothing more to hope or fear was dangerous in a 
place whence truth was banished. 

"When the Council was over Norfolk talked with 
Cavendish about his future. Cavendish had seen enough 
of public life, and had no heart to face its dangers. The 
figure of Wolsey rose before his eyes, and he preferred 
to carry away into solitude his memories of the vanity 
of man's ambition. His only request was for a cart and 
horse to carry away his own goods, which had been 
brought with Wolsey's to the Tower. The king was 
gracious, and allowed him to choose six cart-horses and 
a cart from Wolsey's stable. He gave him five marks 
for his expenses, paid him .10 for arrears of wages, 
and added 20 as a reward. " I received all these things 
accordingly, and then I returned into my country." 


It says much for Wolsey that he chose as his personal 
attendant a man of the sweet, sensitive, retiring type of 
George Cavendish, though it was not till after his fall 
from power that he learned the value of such a friend. 
No less significant of the times is the profound impres- 
sion which Wolsey's fate excited on the mind of Caven- 
dish, who in the retirement of his own county of Suffolk 
lived with increasing sadness through the changes which 
befell England and destroyed many of the memories 
which were dearest to his heart. No one then cared to 
hear about "Wolsey, nor was it safe to recall the thought 
of the great Cardinal of England to the minds of men 
who were busied in undoing his work. Not till the days 
of Mary did Cavendish gather together his notes and 
sketch the fortunes of one whose figure loomed forth 
from a distant past, mellowed by the mists of time, and 
hallowed by the pious resignation which was the only 
comfort that reflection could give to the helpless recluse. 
The calm of a poetic sadness is expressed in the pages of 
Cavendish's Memoir. Wolsey has become to him a type 
of the vanity of human endeavour, and points the moral 
of the superiority of a quiet life with God over the mani- 
fold activities of an aspiring ambition. But Cavendish 
did not live to see the time when such a sermon, preached 
on such a text, was likely to appeal to many hearers. 
His work remained in manuscript, of which copies 
circulated amongst a few. One such copy, it is clear, 
must have reached the hands of Shakespeare, who, with 
his usual quickness of perception, condensed as much as 
his public could understand into his portrait of Wolsey 
in the play of Henry Fill. When the Memoir was first 
printed in 1641 it was garbled for party purposes. The 


figure of Wolsey was long left to the portraiture of 
prejudice, and lie was regarded only as the type of the 
arrogant ecclesiastic whom it was the great work of the 
Reformation to have rendered impossible in the future. 
Wolsey, the most patriotic of Englishmen, was branded 
as the minion of the Pope, and the upholder of a foreign 
despotism. When Fiddes, in 1724, attempted, on the 
strength of documents, to restore Wolsey to his due 
position amongst England's worthies, he was accused of 
Popery. Not till the mass of documents relating to the 
reign of Henry VIII. was published did it become pos- 
sible for Dr. Brewer to show the significance of the 
schemes of the great cardinal, and to estimate his merits 
and his f aulta 



"No statesman of such eminence ever diedless lamented, 1 ' 
is Dr. Brewer's remark on Wolsey's death. Indeed, the 
king had forgotten his old servant ; his enemies rejoiced 
to be rid of a possible rival; the men whom he had 
trained in politics were busy in seeking their own 
advancement, which was not to be promoted by tears 
for a fallen minister ; the people had never loved him, 
and were indifferent about one who was no longer 
powerful. In a time of universal uncertainty every 
one was speculating on the future, and saw that the 
future was not to be determined by Wolsey or by 
Wolsey's ideas. Not without reason has the story of 
Wolsey ; s fall passed into a parable of the heartlessness 
of the world. 

For Wolsey lived for the world as few men have ever 
done ; not for the larger world of intellectual thought or 
spiritual aspiration, but for the actual, immediate world 
of affairs. He limited himself to its problems, but within 
its limits he took a wider and juster view of the problems 
of his time than any English statesman has ever done. 
For politics in the largest sense, comprising all the rela- 


tions of the nation at home and abroad, Wolsey had 
a capacity which amounted to genius, and it is doubt- 
ful if this can be said of any other Englishman. There 
have been many capable administrators, many excellent 
organisers, many who bravely faced the difficulties of 
their time, many who advocated particular reforms and 
achieved definite results. But Wolsejr aimed at doing all 
these things together and more. Taking England as he 
found her, he aimed at developing all her latent possibili- 
ties, and leading Europe to follow in her train. In this 
project there was nothing chimerical or fantastic, for 
Wolsey's mind was eminently practical. Starting from the 
existing condition of affairs, he made England for a time 
the centre of European politics, and gave her an influence 
far higher than she could claim on material grounds. 
Moreover, his far-reaching schemes abroad did not 
interfere with strict attention to the details of England's 
interests. His foreign policy was to promote English 
trade, facilitate the union of Scotland, keep peace at 
small expense, prepare the way for internal re-organisa- 
tion, and secure the right of dealing judiciously with 
ecclesiastical reform. Wolsey's plans all hung together. 
However absorbed he might be in a particular point it 
was only part of a great design, and he used each ad- 
vantage which he gained as a means of strengthening 
England's position for some future undertaking. He 
had a clear view of the future as a whole ; he knew 
not only what he^wished to make of England but of 

Europe as well iHe never worked at a question from 

, | . 

one motive only ;| what failed for one purpose was made 

useful for anoffier; his resources were not bounded by 
the immediate result 


Politics to him was not a pursuit, it was a passion. 
He loved it as an artist loves his art, for he found in it 
a complete satisfaction for his nature. All that was best, 
and all that was worst, in "Wolsey sprang from this ex- 
ceptional attitude towards statecraft, which he practised 
with enthusiasm, not in the spirit of cold calculation. 
The world is accustomed to statesmen who clothe the 
results of calculation in the language of enthusiasm; 
Wolsey's language was practical and direct, his passionate 
aspirations were restrained within his own bosom. 

Thus there is a largeness and distinction about 
Wolsey's aims, a far-reaching patriotism, and an admir- 
able lucidity. He was indeed a political artist, who 
worked with a free hand and a certain touch. He was 
absorbed in his art as a painter over his picture, and he 
did not shrink as the full size of his canvas was gradually 
enrolled. He set himself to dominate Europe, and was 
fearless and self-contained. He gave himself entirely to 
his work, and in his eyes the nobility of his end justified 
any means. Eut he was sensitive, as all artists are, and 
could not work under cramped conditions. When he was 
restricted to the small matter of the divorce his hand lost 
its cunning. He was, though he knew it not, fitted to 
serve England, but not fitted to serve the English king. 
He had the aims of a national statesman, not of a royal 

Wolsey's misfortune was that his lot was cast on 
days when the career of a statesman was not distinct 
from that of a royal servant. He owed his intro- 
duction to politics solely to royal favour, and neither 
had nor could obtain any other warrant for his position. 
For good or evil England was identified with her king. 


and it was long before it could be otherwise. Certainly 
Wolsey had no wish that it should be otherwise, and his 
subservience to the royal will seems to us to be unworthy 
of his greatness. But Wolsey associated his political 
life with the king's goodwill, and Henry was to him a 
symbol of all that was best and most intelligent in 
England. His deviations from his own policy in obedi- 
ence to the king were not more degrading or more 
inevitable than are the calculations of the modern 
statesman about the exact limits of the field of practical 
politics. A statesman has not only to form projects, 
he has to secure a force behind him which will enable 
him to give them effect. Each age recognises this fact, 
and acts accordingly. There is nothing more intrinsi- 
cally base in Wolsey's subservience to the royal will 
than in the efforts of modern statesmen to bid against 
one another for an opportunity of carrying out what 
they think to be the will of the people. JSTo politician 
has a complete command of his field of action ; his high- 
mindedness and purity must be tested by the degree of 
compromise which consciously or unconsciously he makes 
between his love of power and his knowledge or his 
conscience. The utmost that can be demanded of him 
is that he should not, to keep his place, deliberately act 
contrary to what he believes to be wise or knows to be 

In his general conduct of politics Wolsey was true to 
his principles, and though occasionally thwarted, he still 
pursued the same ends. The matter of the divorce was 
sprung upon him, and it would have been well for 
Wolsey's fame if he had retired rather than involve him- 
self in the unworthy proceedings to which it led. But 


the temptation to all men to think themselves necessary 
in the sphere which they have made their own is a subtle 
one; and those who begin by hoping that they may 
minimise inevitable mischief, end by being dragged into 
the mire. To a statesman this temptation is great in 
proportion to the largeness of his ultimate aim. He 
resents that his schemes should be ruined by a temporary 
derangement of the perspective of affairs ; he believes 
that his practised hand can easily solve a trumpery 
difficulty ; the excellence of his intentions in the long- 
run justifies an occasional sacrifice on the shrine of 
present necessity. If he does some things amiss, after 
all he is not responsible for them ; they are disagreeable 
incidents in his tenure of office. 

So Wolsey regarded the divorce; and he is not greatly 
to be blamed for agreeing to promote it. He saw great 
national advantages in a divorce ; he knew that it 
would be well for England if Henry YIIL left male 
issue ; he did not like the political influence of Katharine ; 
he saw that Henry was not likely to be happy in her 
society. It would have been difficult for him to find in 
the proposal itself a sufficient reason for withdrawing 
from politics even if he could have done so with safety. 
Not even Wolsey could foresee the king's obstinacy and 
tenacity of purpose, the depth of meanness to which he 
would sink, and to which he would drag all around him. 
Wolsey found himself powerless to resist, and the 
growing consciousness of moral turpitude practised to no 
purpose degraded him in his own eyes and robbed him 
of his strength. When once the divorce question was 
started Wolsey was pushed on to his ruin by a power 
of imperious wickedness which debased others without 


losing its own self-respect. The dictates of public opinion 
are, after all, not so very different from the commands of 
an absolute king. Both may destroy their victims, and 
go on their own way with heads erect. 

So when we speak oi the fall of .Wolsey we mean 
more than his irrevocable loss of power. He had lost 
his inner strength, and no longer kept his hold upon 
affairs. He knew that he was sullied and unnerved ; that 
he had sunk from the position of a leader to that of 
one who tremblingly follows and devises shifty plans that 
he may still exercise the semblance of his old authority. 
He knew that in his negotiations about the divorce he 
staked everything that he had gained, and that the 
result, whatever it was, would be disastrous to his great 
designs. If he had succeeded he would have degraded 
the Papacy ; and when Henry had once learned how 
easy it was for him to get his own way, he would have 
used his knowledge to the full, and Wolsey would have 
been powerless to direct him. When Wolsey became 
the instrument of the king's self-will, he hoped that a 
few disappointments would wear out his obstinacy ; when 
he saw Henry's growing resoluteness and complete self- 
will he knew that for himself the future was hopeless. 
Still he had not the magnanimity to resign himself to 
his disappointment. He clung to power when power had 
ceased to be useful for his plans. He clung to power, 
because the habits of office had become to him a second 
nature. He vainly strove to find satisfaction in the dis- 
charge of his episcopal duties ; he vainly tried to content 
himself with the simple affairs of simple men. He 
had given himself entirely to the material world, and 
had estranged himself from the spiritual world, which 


was to him thin and unsubstantial to the last. He 
could not refrain from casting longing glances behind 
him, and his last days are pitiable. The words of the 
dying man are often quoted as showing the misery of 
those who trust in princes' favour. But they are not 
merely an echo of a far-off state of things which has 
passed by for ever. " To serve one's country 7 ' may have a 
loftier and more noble sound than " to serve one's king," 
but the meaning is not necessarily different. The 
thought in Wolsey's heart was this " If I had served 
the spiritual interests of my country as I have striven to 
serve its material interests my conscience would be 
more at rest." For "Wolsey was a true patriot, and had 
noble aims. Much as he might deaden his conscience, 
he did not extinguish it; and his last judgment ol 
himself expressed the sad conviction that neither his 
patriotism nor the nobility of his aims had saved him 
from actions which he could not justify, and which his 
conscience loudly condemned. 

We have called Wolsey a political artist : and this, 
which makes his career attractive, is the secret of his 
unpopularity. Wolsey's designs did not arise from 
the pressure of absolute necessity, and their meaning 
was not apparent to his contemporaries. Englishmen 
thought then, as they think now, that England should 
disregard foreign affairs and develop her own resources ; 
or if foreign affairs are undertaken they demand the 
success of English arms, and claim to be repaid in current 
coin or palpable advantages. Wolsey believed that the 
establishment of England's power on the Continent was 
necessary for the increase of English trade, and was a 
preliminary for the wise solution of those questions which 


were most urgent in domestic politics. He was the 
last English statesman of the old school, which regarded 
England not as a separate nation, but as an integral part 
of Western Christendom. He did not look upon ques- 
tions as being solely English questions ; he did not aim 
merely at reforming English monasteries or asserting a 
new position for the English Church. But he thought 
that England was rip for practically carrying out re- 
forms which had long been talked of, and remedying 
abuses which had long been lamented ; and he hoped 
that England in these respects would serve as a model 
to the rest of Europe. Only if England was in full 
accord with European sentiment, was powerful, and was 
respected, could this be done. Wolsey did not prefer 
foreign politics on their own account, but he found them 
to be the necessary preliminary for any lasting work on 
the lines which he contemplated. As regards Church 
matters he was strictly practical. He had no belief in 
reforming councils, or pragmatic sanctions, or G-allican 
liberties; he cared little for England's weapon of 
pmmunire. He did not look upon the Pope as a 
powerful adversary who was to be held at arm's length ; 
he regarded him as a man to be managed and converted 
into a useful ally. Wolsey was entirely Erastian. Power 
was to him the important thing in human affairs, and all 
power was the same; he believed much more in the 
divine right of Henry VIII. than in the divine right of 
Clement VII. merely because Henry's power seemed to 
him practically to be greater. However poetical Wolsey 'a 
main ideas might be, he had no illusions about the 
actual facts of politics. 

The Englishmen of his own day did not appreciate 


Wolsey's aims, and supposed that his foreign policy was 
for the gratification of his own vanity, or was the result 
of a desire to gain the Papacy. No one understood him 
in his own time. He bore the burden of everything that 
was done, and all the causes of popular discontent were 
laid at his door. If the loyalty of Wolsey seems strange 
to our eyes, still more inexplicable is the loyalty of the 
English people, who could believe in Henry's good in- 
tentions, and could suppose that he was entirely ruled 
by Wolsey contrary to his own inclinations. Wolsey was 
universally hated ; by the nobles as an upstart, by the 
people as a tyrant, by Churchmen as a dangerous re- 
former, by the Lutherans as a rank Papist. While he 
was in power he kept in restraint various elements of 
disorder; but he shared the fate of those who rule 
without identifying themselves with any party. When 
his power came to an end no minister could assume his 
place or pick up the threads which fell from his hands. 
It was left to Henry VIII, who had learned more from 
Wolsey than any one else, to direct England's fortunes 
on a lower level of endeavour. We may admire his 
clear head and his strong hand; we may even prefer the 
results of his solution to those which Wolsey would have 
wrought; but we must confess that personal motives 
held the chief place in his mind, and that considerations 
of the common weal came only in the second place. For 
Henry VIII abandoned Wolsey's idea of a European 
settlement of ecclesiastical questions, and gradually 
undertook a national settlement on lines drawn solely 
with reference to his own desires and his own interest. 
In this simpler matter it was possible for him to enjoy 
some measure of success, and this was chiefly due to the 


preparation which Wolsey had made. Por the work ol 
a statesman is never entirely thrown away ; if his own 
plans fail, he leaves the way open for others who may 
use his means for widely different ends, 

Wolsey was the creator of the forces which worked 
the great change in England in the sixteenth century. 
He obtained for England a position in the esteem of 
Europe which he had meant to use for the direction 
of Europe generally, Henry used that position for 
the assertion of England's right to settle its own affairs 
for itself ; and the position proved strong enough to 
ward off foreign interference, and to carry England safely 
through the first period of a dangerous crisis. It was 
because Wolsey had laid a sure foundation that England 
emerged from her separatist policy, isolated, it is true, 
but not excluded from European influence. Again, 
Wolsey exalted the royal power, because ne believed 
that it alone could rise above the separate interests of 
classes, and could give a large expression to the national 
weal, Henry profited by Wolsey's labours to pursue 
exclusively his own interests, yet he learned enough 
to interweave them dexterously with some national in- 
terests in such a way that they could not practically be 
disentangled, and that he had sufficient adherents to put 
down opposition when it arose. Even the preliminary 
steps which Wolsey had taken were carefully followed. 
His scheme for the gradual conversion of monasteries 
into more useful institutions was revived, and men be- 
lieved that it would be imitated : the very agents that 
he had trained for the work of turning monasteries into 
educational establishments were employed in sweeping 
the monastic revenues into the royal coffers. So it 


was with all other things. Henry learned Wolsey's 
methods, and popularised Wolsey's phrases. He clothed 
his own self-seeking with the dignity of Wolsey's designs; 
the hands were the hands of Henry, but the voice was an 
echo of the voice of Wolsey. 

The new England that was created in the sixteenth 
century was strangely unlike that which Wolsey had 
dreamed of, yet none the less it was animated by his 
spirit. His ideal of England, influential in Europe 
through the mediatorial policy which her insular posi- 
tion allowed her to claim, prosperous at home through 
the influence which she obtained by her far-sighted 
wisdom and disinterestedness this is Wolsey's permanent 
contribution to the history of English politics. 


ADRIAN VI. , Pope, election of, 87, 
88 ; enters league against France, 
96 ; death of, 99. 

Agostino, Wolsey' s physician, 199, 

Albany, James, Duke of, made 
Regent of Scotland, 69 ; allied 
with Queen Margaret, 91 ; re- 
treats before Lord Dacre, 92 ; 
retires from Wark, 98 ; recalled 
to France, 107. 

Alcock, John, Bishop of Ely, 141. 

Amicable Loan, 111, 112. 

Angus, Archibald, Earl of, marries 
Queen - Dowager Margaret, 69 ; 
in France and England, 107. 

Ardres, fortification of, 68. 

BAINBRIDGE, Thomas, Archbishop 
of York, 29-39. 

Blunt, Elizabeth, 118. 

Boleyn, Anne, Henry VIII. 's pas- 
sion for, 152 ; her influence over 
Henry VIII., 159, 160, 165- 

Bourbon, Constable of, revolts 
from Francis I., 94 ; negotiations 
of Pace with, 106, 107 ; in 
Italy, 121. 

Bruges, Wolsey meets Charles V. 
at, 77, 78. 

Buckingham, Duke of, executed, 
70, 71. 

Buttes, Doctor, 192, 193. 

CALAIS, meeting of Henry VIII. 
and Charles V. at, 63 ; confer- 
ence at, 73-82. 

Cambrai, League of, 8, 9, 14, 15 ; 
conference at, 177, 178. 

Campeggio, Cardinal, sent to Eng- 
land, 164, 165 ; his action about 
the divorce, 171-173 ; his inter- 
view with Henry VIII., 181 ; 
seizure of his baggage, 182, 

Cardinal College, 143, 144, 196. 

Carey, Eleanor, 166. 

Cavendish, George, memoir of 
Wolsey quoted, 156, 158, 175, 
200-205 ; his interview with 
Henry VIII., 207, 208 ; later 
life of, 209. 

Cawood Castle, Wolsey at, 197, 

Charles, Prince of Castile, be- 
trothed to Mary of England, 32 ; 
betrothed to Rene" e of France, 37 ; 
King of Spain, 44 ; goes to Spain, 
46 ; elected Emperor Charles 
V., 52-54 ; seeks interview with 
Henry VIII., 58 ; pensions 
Wolsey, 59 ; in England, 61 ; 
meets Henry VIII. at Calais, 
63 ; his marriage projects, 67 ; 
attacked by Francis I., 72 j 
meets Wolsey at Bruges, 77, 
78 ; his policy in papal elec- 
tion, 85-88 ; visits London, 
89 ; allied with Henry VIII., 



90; negotiations with, about 
marriage, 116-118; makes peace 
of Cambrai, 178. 

Charles VIII., 6. 

Chievres, death of, 74. 

Clement VII., Pope, attacked in 
Rome, 121 ; visited by Knight 
at Orvieto, 160 ; embassy of Gar- 
diner to, 163, 164 ; his hesita- 
tion about the divorce, 172. 

Cromwell, Thomas, early life of, 
188 ; parts from Wolsey, 189 ; 
speaks in Wolsey's behalf, 191. 

DACEE, Lord, Warden of the 
Western Marches, 70 ; defends 
Carlisle against Albany, 92. 

De Praet, 108, 109. 

Dorset, Marquis of, 19 ; com- 
mands in Guienne, 23. 

ERASMUS, 140. 

Esher, Wolsey at, 189, 192, 193. 

FEBDINAND, King of Aragon, 5 ; 
allied with Maximilian, 14 ; 
joins Holy League, 16 ; deserts 
Henry VIII. in Guienne, 23; 
allies with France, 27 ; dies, 

Fisher, John, Bishop of Rochester, 
145, 155, 156, 175. 

Fitzroy, Henry, Duke of Rich- 
mond, 118. 

Flodden Field, Battle of, 26. 

Fox, Richard, Bishop of Winches- 
ter, 20, 22, 137, 141. 

Francis L, King of France, acces- 
sion of, 35, 36 ; wins Duchy of 
Milan, 38 ; makes treaty of 
Noyon, 44 ; candidate for the 
empire, 52-55 ; seeks interview 
with Henry VIII., 57 ; pen- 
sions Wolsey, 59 ; at Field of 
Cloth of Gold, 62; attacks 
Charles V., 72 ; his unpopu- 
larity, 90 ; captured at Pavia, 
109 ; signs treaty of Madrid, j 
120 ; makes peace with Eng- 

land, 122 ; interview of Wolsey 
with, at Amiens, 157 ; makes 
peace of Cambrai, 178. 
Fnmdsberg, George, 121. 

GARDIHER, Stephen, ambassador 
to Clement VII., 161-163; 
king's favourite, 176 ; made 
Bishop of Winchester, 190. 

Gattinara, Erourino della, nego- 
tiates with Tunstal, 68 ; his 
position with Charles V., 75 ; 
at conference of Calais, 76, 77, 
79, 80. 

Gigli, Silvestro dei, Bishop of Wor- 
cester, 29, 38. 

Greene, John, 113. 

Guienne, scheme for conquest of, 
16, 17 ; its failure, 23. 

Guisnes, 61, 62. 


Henry VII., policy of, 10, 11,20, 
21-30, 124. 

Henry VIII., accession of, 11 ; 
joins Holy League, 16 ; his 
Council, 22 ; his expedition into 
France, 25 ; abandoned by Fer- 
dinand and Maximilian, 28 ; 
allies with Louis XII., 32-35 ; 
asks for Wolsey's cardinalate, 
33, 39 ; his dealings with Maxi- 
milian, 41-45 ; a candidate for 
the empire, 53-55 ; allies with 
Charles V., 90; costliness of 
his policy, 102 ; his manage- 
ment of Parliament, 129 ; ques- 
tion of his divorce, 151 ; re- 
bukes Wolsey, 167-170 ; his last 
interview with Wolsey, 181,182 

Howard, Sir Edward, 24. 

IPSWICH, 18 ; college of, 143, 195. 
Isabella of Portugal, 117. 

JAMBS V. set up King of Scot 

land, 108. 

Jordan, Isabella, 166. 
Julius II., Pope, and Italian poll 

tics, 9, 15. 



KATHABUTE, Queen of England, 
13, 16 ; confides in Wolsey, 25 ; 
Eegent of England, 26; op- 
posed to French, alliance, 60 ; 
signs of her breach with king, 
118 ; divorce question moved, 
151-153; her attitude before 
the legatine court, 174. 

Kingston, Sir William, 202-207. 

Knight, secretary, sent to Rome, 


League, the Italian, 6, 7. 

of Cambrai, 8, 9, 14, 15. 

the Holy, 16. 

Legate, Wolsey nominated, 50 ; 
his legatine courts, 147. 

Leicester Abbey, death of Wolsey 
at, 203-206. 

Leo X., Pope, accession of, 27 ; 
refuses Wolsey's cardinalate, 
33, 34 ; creates Wolsey cardinal, 
39 ; annoyed at Wolsey's suc- 
cess, 50 ; sides with Charles V., 
66, 73, 74 ; death of, 85. 

Lincoln, Wolsey Dean of, 22 ; 
Bishop of, 29. 

Longueville, Duke of, 32. 

Louis XI., King of France, his 
policy, 5. 

Louis XII., King of France, and 
League of Cambrai, 9, 10 ; his 
dealings with Julius II., 15 ; 
defeated in Italy, 25 ; makes 
truce with Ferdinand and Maxi- 

milian, 28 ; marries Mary 
England, 33 ; dies, 34. 


Louise of Savoy, mother of Francis 
I., makes peace with England, 

Lymington, Wolsey Vicar of, 19. 

MADEID, Treaty of, 120. 
Magdalen College, Oxford, 18, 19. 
Margaret, queen of James IV. of 
Scotland, marries Earl of Angus, 

69 ; allies with Albany, 91 ; 
managed by Wolsey, 108. 

Marignano, battle of, 38. 

Mary, Princess, daughter of Henry 
VII., married to Louis XII., 
32 ; marries Duke of Suffolk, 

Mary, Princess, daughter of Henry 
VIII., married by proxy to 
Dauphin, 49 ; betrothed to 
Charles V., 63, 64; betrothed 
to Duke of Orleans, 122. 

Maximilian, Emperor, joins Italian 
League, 6 ; allied with Ferdi- 
nand, 14 ; relations of Henry 
VII. with, 21 ; at Terouenne, 
25 ; deserts Henry VIII., 27, 
28 ; makes a futile expedition 
against Milan, 40-42; signs 
peace of Noyon, 45 ; dies, 52. 

Medici, Guilio dei, candidate for 
the Papacy, 87 ; elected Cle- 
ment VII. , 99, 100. 

Montdidier, capture of, 97. 

More, Sir Thomas, Speaker in 1523, 
103-105 ; Chancellor, 190. 

NAOTAN, Sir Richard, 19. 

Norfolk, Thomas Howard I., Duke 
of, 30, 34. 

Norfolk, Thomas Howard II. , Duke 
of, puts down tumult, 113, 114; 
plots against Wolsey. 177, 181 , 
receives great seal from Wolsey, 
186 ; president of the Council, 

Norwich, tumult in, 113. 

Noyon, Treaty of, 44, 45. 

OXFORD, Wolsey's influence in, 

PACE, Eichard, his mission to 
Maximilian, 41-43 ; mission to 
the German Elector, 55 ; mis- 
sion to Venice, 95 ; mission to 
Bourbon, 106, 107. 

Parliament, of 1523, 103, 105; 
Wolsey's attitude to, 129, 130 



Paulet, Sir Amyas, 19. 
Pavia, battle of, 109. 
Picardy, invasion of, 90. 
Putney, Wolsey at, 187. 

RHODES captured by Turks, 93. 
Richmond Lodge, Wolsey at, 193. 
Ruthal, Bishop of Durham, 22. 

ST. ALBAN'S, Wolsey made Abbot 
of, 83. 

Sanctuary, right of, 135. 

Scroohy, Wolsey at, 195. 

Sheffield Park, Wolsey at, 202. 

Southwell, Wolsey at, 194. 

Spinelly, Thomas, 31. 

Standish, Henry, 135-138. 

Stile, John, 31. 

Suffolk, Charles Brandon, Duke of, 
30 ; ambassador to France, 36 ; 
marries Mary of England, 37 ; 
commander in France, 97; in- 
sults Wolsey, 176 ; receives 
great seal from Wolsey, 186. 

Surrey, Thomas Howard I., Earl 
of, member of Henry VII. 's 
Council, 22, 23 ; created Duke 
of Norfolk (.t>.) 1514. 

Surrey, Thomas Howard II. , Earl 
of, commander in France, 90, 
91 ; put in charge of the Border, 

92; takes the field against Albany, 
98 ; succeeded Duke of Norfolk 
(q.v.) 1524. 
Swiss troops in Milan, 38, 41, 42. 

TEROTJENNE, capture of, 25. 
Tournai, capture of, 25 ; Wolsey, 

Bishop of, 29 ; ceded to France, 

47-49 ; captured by, 81. 
Tunstal, Cuthbert, ambassador to 

Charles V. , 67, 68 ; speech as 

chancellor, 103. 

VENICE, attacked by League of 
Cambrai, 8, 9 ; England's deal- 
ings with, 95, 96. 

Vives, Juan Luis, 146. 

WALSHE, Sir Walter, 199. 
Walsingham, Wolsey's pilgrimage 

to, 47. 
Warham, Archbishop, 20, 147, 

154, 155. 
Wingfield, Sir Richard, 81, 41-43, 


Worms, Diet of, 73. 
Wykeham, William of, 141. 

YORK, archbishopric of, given to 
Wolsey, 29. 


Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh. 


M.A. of Oxford and Cambridge, D.C.L. of Durham, LL.D. 
of Glasgow and Harvard. With Maps. Eleventh Edition. 
Pott 8vo. I s. [Literature Primers. 

SATURDAY REVIEW. "Mr. Creightonis constantly stopping 
to gather up the threads into his reader's hands, to mark ' noticeable 
points,' to give systematic little bits of generalisation about causes, and 
little lists of questions that a boy should bear in mind throughout j and 
all this is consistently couched in the lenior imperative of the lecturer. 
. . . The book is, as a rule, uniformly good, and far ahead of any small 
school histories that have appeared before." 

ACADEMY. " Mr. Creighton's 'History of Rome' reminds us 
once more that, in the matter of historical handbooks at least, we boast 
to be much better than our fathers. At the outset he touches the right 
chord by pointing out that the explanation of many important facts in 
modem Europe is to be sought in the history of old Rome, and he pro- 
ceeds by a judicious selection of facts to bring into relief those social 
and political changes which are the true subjects of history. But Mr. 
Creighton takes care not to fall into the mistake of omitting the tales 
which have been enjoyed by so many generations, and in spite of his 
cramped space he finds room for Cincinnatus at the Plough and the 
Schoolmaster of Falerii." 

SCHOOL BOARD CHRONICLE. ^'The author has been 
curiously successful in telling in this intelligent way the story of Rome 
from first to last in a rudimentary shilling book of little more than a 
hundred and twenty pages, with maps, tables, and a brief chronology." 



Crown $>*vo. 2s. 6d. each, 


TIMES. " Gives with great picturesqueness . . . the dramatic ^incidents of 
a memorable career far removed from our times and our manner of thinking." 


TIMES." It is delightfully real and readable, and in spite of severe com- 
pression has the charm of a mediaeval romance." 

EDWARD I. By T. F. TOUT, M.A., Professor of 
History, The Owens College, Manchester. 

SPEAKER. " A truer or more life-like picture of the king, the conqueror, 
the overlord, the duke, has never yet been drawn. " 


A THENMUM." The best account of Henry VII. that has yet appeared." 


SATURDAY REVIEW. " Is exactly what one of a series of short bio- 
graphies of English Statesmen ought to be." 


MANCHESTER GUARDIAN," It may be recommended as the best and 
briefest and most trustworthy of the many books_ that in this generation have 
dealt with the life and deeds of that ' bright Occidental Star, Queen Elizabeth 
of happy memory. ' " 


TIMES. " Gives a wonderfully vivid picture of events." 


SPECTA TO JR. "Mr. Traill has done his work well in the limited space at 
his command. The narrative portion is clear and vivacious, and his criticisms, 
although sometimes trenchant, are substantially just. " 


ST. JAMES'S GAZETTE. " It deserves to be read, not only as the work 
of one of the most prominent politicians of the day, but for its intrinsic merits. 
It is a clever, thoughtful, and interesting biography." 


TIMES." Brilliant and fascinating. . . . The style is terse, masculine, 
nervous^ articulate, and clear ; the grasp of circumstance and character is firm, 
penetrating, luminous, and unprejudiced ; the judgment is broad, generous, 
humane, and scrupulously candid. . . . It is not only a luminous estimate of 
Pitt's ^character and policy ; it is also a brilliant gallery of portraits. The 
portrait of Fox, for example, is a masterpiece." 


DAILY NEWS." A model of what such a book should be. We can give it 
no higher praise than to say that it is worthy to rank with Mr. John Morley's 
Watyole in the same series." 


ST. /AMES'S GAZETTE. "It comes near the model of what such a book 
should be." 



Edited by J. B. BURY, M.A., Regius Professor of 
Modern History at Cambridge. 

Crown %vo. 2s. 6d. each, 

D.C.L., Author of Italy and Her Invaders, etc. 

Fellow and Tutor of St. John's College, Oxford. 




RICHELIEU. By R. LODGE, Professor of History in 
the University of Edinburgh. 


MIRABEAU. By P. F. WILLERT, Fellow of Exeter 
College, Oxford. 



MAZARIN. By ARTHUR HASSALL, Student and Tutor 
of Christ Church, Oxford. 

CATHERINE II. By J. B. BURY, Regius Professor 
of Modern History in the University of Cambridge. 

\In the Press, 


JEnglisb tfDen of I/etters. 

Crown Svo. Gilt tops. Flat backs. 2s. net each, 












of letter*, 


Library Edition. Crown $vo. Gilt tops. Flat backs. 2s. net. 

Popular Edition. Crown 8vo. Cloth, is. 6d. Paper covers, is. 

Pocket Edition. Fcap. Sw. Special Cover Design. Cloth, is. net. 



By Dean CHURCH. 




By Principal SHAIRP. 

By Professor NICHOL. 

By Professor NICHOL. 

By Dr. A. W. WARD. 




By Professor MASSON. 

By Dr. A. W. WARD. 

By Professor G. SAINTSBURY. 






By Professor HUXLEY, F.R.S. 





By Canon AINGER. 












By Professor DOWDEN. 

By Dean CHURCH. 





By F. W. H. MYERS. 


I6n(}lfeb UDeit of action Series. 

Crown 8m Cloth. With Portraits. 2s. 6d. each. 



HENRY V. By the Rev. A. J. CHURCH. 












WARWICK, the King-Maker. By c W. OMAN,